According to Mystic Dylan, I’m destined to be a star. I’ll live a nomadic lifestyle and I’ll have one great love. For $10, Mystic Dylan—the in-house palm reader and psychic at Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum—reads my right palm in a quick five minutes inside the Burbank, California museum.
The Mystic Museum, which is nestled between a wine bar and a pet spa on Magnolia Street, is a lot of things. It’s a place for palm readings. But it’s also a museum full of occult and macabre things, like ouija boards and ancient mummy skulls. It’s an oddities store, pop-up exhibit, art gallery, and home to the meetings of Club Coven, an association of non-denominational witches.
“It’s like Girl Scouts for witches—but for adults,” says Erick Wessel, owner of the 7-year-old museum and a self-described witch. He is happy to share the history of the museum as the nearby television plays reruns of The Addams Family, casting a warm glow on the tattoos spiraling up his neck.
The museum’s current exhibit, Family Goals, is an ode to the Munsters and the Addams Family. As soon as I enter the museum, my eyes are drawn to a DRAG-U-LA boxcar in the center of the space. Wessel—who in a past life was an electrician, an apartment remodeler, and chef—says he built the DRAG-U-LA replica himself.
“I’m really meticulous, so it looks like the original,” Wessel says. “Then it takes about four to five days straight to build it.”
As Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” blares over the speakers, I scan the art hung on the blood red walls. There are drawings and paintings, and most are spooky family-themed. Wessel says the art comes from local, national, and international artists—and it’s all for sale.
There’s a Cousin Itt replica to my right, and a staircase that rises up when you step on a button hidden in the floor. The space is abundantly Instagram-friendly, and there are signs everywhere reminding you to tag the museum when you (inevitably) post your photos on social media.
Curious customers become a lasting community
Amber Marcantel and Alley Johnston are perusing the museum while I’m there. They’re in from San Diego to visit an oddities flea market and this Mystic Museum exhibit.
Marcantel—wearing a long, black dress—says she is a big fan of morbid stuff, while Johnston says she’s a fan of horror. They both come to the Mystic Museum every few months, to see each new exhibit. By the end of their visit, Marcantel is holding half a dozen pieces of art, ready to purchase.
“We do have one of the highest rates of art sales for an art exhibit,” Wessel says. “We sell about 90 percent of all the art by the end of the show. Usually we sell about 50 percent by the end of opening night.”
The Family Goals exhibit will only be at Bearded Lady’s for a few more months, but Wessel says that as soon as they’re done with opening night for one exhibit, they immediately begin planning for the next. And no matter the exhibit, there are always returning customers likes Marcantel and Johnston.
“There is no typical customer,” Wessel says. “Our crowd ranges from A to Z. It’s everybody and anybody.”
The museum’s eclectic crowd has helped form a community, including Club Coven, which meets monthly at the museum. Mystic Dylan leads the meetings.
Against one of the walls stands a witch altar, where museumgoers can give an offering as a request for Club Coven members to cast a spell on someone. The offerings vary—the most recent one is a stone.
“The community we’ve started here, the friendships that we curate with the customers, make us different,” he says. “We not only create art collectors who never collected art before, but we are also opening people’s minds to witchcraft, too. What makes us different is we tap into all these small little things in one encompassing thing. We didn’t stick to a box. We expanded the box into a giant circle.”
If you go
Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum is open 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Museum admission is $10.