Garibaldi-Meucci Museum Investigation
We returned to the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in August of 2006 for a follow-up investigation. We were joined by a reporter from the Staten Island Advance. It was a sort of "Sleepover" Investigation, but none of our investigators did any sleeping!
Here's the article from the Staten Island Advance website that mentions this investigation. Though we didn't agree with some of what the reporter wrote, we were happy for the press. We've included our rebuttal to their skeptics argument.
Ghosts may inhabit Rosebank museum
Staff at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum report strange happenings and phenomena
Sunday, October 29, 2006
By ALEXANDRA M. JACOBS
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
Under the peaked Gothic roof of this 150-year-old Rosebank farmhouse, an exiled war hero once mourned the death of his wife, and the true inventor of the telephone died in obscurity. Now all that's left of Giuseppe Garibaldi (the hero) is a framed lock of hair, and all that remains of Antonio Meucci (the inventor) is his plaster death mask.
Or is it? Now a museum, the staff believes the house is still inhabited -- by ghosts. And with all things considered, perhaps it's no wonder they say there's something spooky about the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum.
A century ago, when they moved the house up the hill, workers left it facing in the wrong direction. Today, its aged veneer seems out of place in this increasingly metropolitan neighborhood.
At the shuttered door on the bare plank porch, the doorbell sometimes rings on its own.
Downstairs, a Victorian-era Christ child statue beckons with charred fingers underneath a glass bubble (the relic was burnt in a church fire).
Upstairs, a black bust of Dante scowls eternally at the wall it faces, perpetually pondering hell.
"Everyone who's worked here has had things happen," says Emily Gear, the museum's curator. "You'll see shadows move, you'll feel a touch on your shoulder, or you'll walk in and the air will feel thick with energy and anger."
From simultaneously malfunctioning computer equipment to dead air on the telephone line, staff attribute many otherwise innocuous phenomena to the supernatural -- but some of their ghostly experiences are less easy to explain away.
Chris Raimonto, a senior television and film major at St. John's University in Grymes Hill, made a documentary about the museum's ghosts.
"I didn't discover anything. But I felt spooked when I filmed upstairs. I felt like the ghosts didn't want me there," he said, adding that he thinks the spirits are upset their home has been turned into a museum.
When Jennifer Sammartino of Stapleton, a spokeswoman for St. Vincent's Hospital in West Brighton, first began volunteering as a tour guide at the museum, she got the feeling that she wasn't alone there. And she wasn't the only one noticing the presence of something or someone else in the house.
A gruff male voice once told her to "get out" when she entered the museum one day, she says. She hid out in the office until Ms. Gear arrived, who noticed how upset she looked.
"He told you to get out, didn't he?" Ms. Gear asked, before Ms. Sammartino even had a chance to tell her about the disconcerting message. "He told me, too."
"They don't like it when we talk about them," Ms. Gear said, noting that when Ms. Sammartino gave a "haunted tour" to 60 visitors, describing the house's spooky past, "the house was just vibrating afterwards. They weren't happy."
She and the other museum volunteers often sense a female presence in the gallery room, formerly the kitchen. They call her "Nicole," after a former caretaker who lived with Meucci.
It was Nicole that four members of the Staten Island Paranormal Society largely concentrated on when they conducted an "investigation" of the museum's spirits earlier this year. "Nicole, is that you?" asked Laura of Bulls Head, who says she is sensitive to ghosts, as she recorded the room's sounds on a digital voice recorder.
'THE OTHER SIDE'
In their efforts to see into "the other side," the society utilizes video cameras, digital cameras and digital voice recorders to act like a sort of spirit paparazzi -- videotaping, photographing and recording each room of the house while one of the 'sensitive' members tries to make contact, all in an effort to capture an image or sound bite of their elusive quarry. They're looking for evidence of strange 'energy' they believe to be proof of the other side.
Rather than a "Ghostbusters"-style ghoul, group members scrutinize the resulting images for orbs (bright spots of white light), mists (blurred smokey spots), strange lights or even faces. Though many of these effects can be the result of a prolonged exposure or a flash bouncing off dust or other objects, members say they can tell the difference between camera tricks and ghost 'energy.' They concentrate on any out-of-the-ordinary sounds on their EVP recordings, and enhance them on a computer program to glean messages.
The last time they were here, society members made a "class A" recording of a voice they believe to be Nicole's. On that tape, one of the members says, "I'm not ready to give up yet," and a high-pitched voice that could almost be a squeak interjects -- it seems to reply: "I am." The group believes Nicole was speaking to them.
Though the house certainly has its quirks, many skeptics say that there is no proof of the existence of spirits or ghosts anywhere, let alone in the museum.
"These ghost-hunters are operating under foolish conditions," said Dr. Joe Nickell, senior research fellow at the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. "They're simply saying, Let's go out there and mess around, and if anything odd happens, we'll say it's ghosts. ... There's nothing in these pictures that suggest ghosts."
The former magician and private detective has investigated scientific explanations of supposed phenomena for decades, from haunted houses to alien abductions. Dr. Nickell is a frequent contributor to the National Geographic Channel and Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and describes his job as "going out and finding the actual explanations for things."
"I believe that the fascination with such things as the paranormal stems from our own hopes and fears," Dr. Nickell says. "We are hopeful, for example, that ghosts exist, because that means we live after we die. On the other hand, we are fearful of specters, as we are fearful of the unknown."
Ghosts or no ghosts, the spirits of Giuseppe Garibaldi and Antonio Meucci, and the generation of Italian-American immigrants they represent, certainly live on. History is fully alive at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum.
© 2006 Staten Island Advance © 2006 SILive.com All Rights Reserved.
Our rebuttal to Mr. Nickell:
He wrote, "One cannot draw a conclusion from a lack of knowledge." in an article on the website Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. We think he needs to take his own advice and not draw conclusions with a lack of knowledge of the Museum.
Website of Joe Nickell
Interesting to note that on his website he writes, "I hold that mysteries should neither be fostered nor dismissed. Instead, they should be carefully investigated with a view toward solving them." yet he DID NOT do that! He did not investigate us or the Museum!!
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