The Disappearance of Arthur Nestor: Parafiction, Cryptozoology, Curation

Kirsty Robertson


This paper considers Beneath the Surface: The Archives of Arthur Nestor, a parafictional exhibition that I curated in 2014 with 16 undergraduate students at Western University, Canada. The exhibition depicted the life of Dr. Arthur Nestor, a professor of Biology who had disappeared from London (ON) in 1975, seemingly without trace. Over the summer of 2014, some of Nestor’s files and artefacts had been discovered during university renovations, and this archive was given to students in Museum Studies to organize and catalogue. As we sorted through the files, it became clear that Dr. Nestor was something of a controversial figure, a man who became an environmental activist in Southwestern Ontario because of his belief that cryptids (lake monsters) lived in Lakes Huron and Erie, and were in need of protection from human-made pollution. As the documents in his file overlapped with our research in the wider sphere, the evidence seemed to suggest that Nestor had left London to join Dr. Roy Mackal, a University of Chicago professor of cryptozoology searching for the Loch Ness Monster. This paper weaves together the tale of Arthur Nestor and the curating of Beneath the Surface with a history of the relationship between natural history museums and cryptozoology, ultimately questioning what parafiction can do in both art galleries and museums.


parafiction; contemporary art; cryptozoology; pedagogy; natural history museums; collecting; collections; British Museum; Loch Ness Monster; Natural History Museum, London; curating

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Copyright (c) 2020 Kirsty Robertson

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