Wilhelm Reich Museum, or Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust, Rangeley, Maine. August 27, 2016
I'm a Mainer, and have been to Rangeley before, but had never heard of Wilhelm Reich or his story until revisiting 'Cloudbusting', one of my favorite Kate Bush songs, many years after first hearing it and seeing the video.
Years ago, 'Cloudbusting' by Kate Bush song/video inspired me, haunted me, loved it, mesmerized me for years and years. Kate and Donald Sutherland. Beautifully exquisite lyrics, music, setting, and story.
I discovered that this mysterious video and song from my past wasn't fiction. This happened around 2012, when I was revisiting a lot of Kate Bush videos and songs, and researching her literary song, 'Wuthering Heights', about the ghost of Cathy (Catherine Earnshaw), and then more about Emily Bronte, and the Bronte family when I remembered, 'Cloudbusting', and that led me to the Wilhelm Reich Museum link.
I’d been wanting to go for a long time, and we finally made it there this summer, August 2016.
As you come upon the Museum Entrance, this is a little sign along the main road in Rangeley, and it is easy to miss if you aren't paying attention.
These photos above are from driving up to Wilhelm Reich's house in Rangeley, parking just beyond the little bookstore, and before going in to purchase our tickets.
The tour is free for children, and about eight dollars for adults. There were only two others in our tour, but there was one behind us. We were there during summer hours, I am not sure if they're subject to change, it's best to call them ahead of time if you are not sure. One piece of advice, use cash. I tried to use a debit/credit card and it was not an ideal set-up for that there, so we ended up using cash.
Below are some photos from inside the little bookstore/ticket house.
On we went on our guided tour. There are no photos of the inside of the Museum.
Before going up and into the grand stone steps, and into Wilhelm Reich's house, we were led around the back of the house.
There's a door just around the corner of the small little building attachment in the photo below, where we went to view the documentary.
We sat in the room on the ground level in a room where his son Peter, used to play, and watched a short documentary: Wilhelm Reich Orgone Energy on a small television, before going around to the side of the house/museum. The documentary actually began about six or seven minutes into the video posted in the above link. I couldn't find the shorter version, but it is still all really interesting.
Here's the side of Reich's house/museum.
After the video, we were told that we were not allowed to take photos in the museum.
Inside the house/museum it is pretty much the same as he left it, and untouched, as much as possible.
The person who took us around told us so many interesting things about Wilhelm, his experiments, his family, and more. At the same time, I left with so many questions that I didn’t think of until after.
During the tour, we were encouraged to ask questions during the tour, and we did. There's so much to look at, read, and see, that you need to go back a few times, because there's really not enough time to spend reading all of the material set around the inventions. The larger ones included a glorious Cloudbuster inside (there's one outside as well, which you get to touch, and it is next to his tomb). Also, inside are: small Orgone accumulators and a large one, letters between Wilhelm and the government, information about his inventions, and so much more. I guess you really need to buy the books about him and by him if you want to know more and see more of that sort of thing. They did have flyers around each invention, and I took every one I could find. The tour guide even gives some of the flyers a Wilhelm Reich seal from his office later on in the tour if you want. The flyers are pretty neat. Here are two of the many I collected on the tour:
The first floor was a wide open space of three rooms. There was also a huge camera that Wilhelm had put together and used to create time lapses. The tour wasn't over yet, we were on to our next floor, but before we get there, the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust website is a great place to start for more information, photos, and see what is available there, such as cabin rentals.
The large windows and open spaces inside this house were remarkable, the views were breathtaking. It was like visiting a movie set, or a setting from another world. (I continue to revel in the notion that Wilhelm Reich really lived in this amazing house, and the trust is able to keep it going to this day for people to see and learn from.)
The photo below of the outside, front of the house, doesn't really do the windows justice, but that reflection in the lower left window though!
Wilhelm Reich's books are on display at the museum, and many/most are available in the little bookstore, or online. Also, a bunch of flyers (as I mentioned before) that you could pick up (I took every one I could find). We learned that Reich was friends with William Steig, the writer of Shrek. We learned that William Steig illustrated one of Reich’s books, “Listen, Little Man!”
The next stop on the tour: The Third Floor. The tour guide skipped over the second floor because the weather was so amazing, and she didn't want us to miss the spectacular view. This top floor was Wilhelm Reich's art studio. Reich had turned to painting as a form of expression.
Our guide told us about how they, (the curators) meticulously dust Wilhelm's things off to help preserve the original items still on display to this day.
Although we couldn’t take photos of any of Wilhelm's things, including his original tubes of half-squeezed paints from the 50s, we could go stand out on the rooftop and take photos. There was another one of his inventions and a huge antenna on top of the roof. It was a perfect day for Cloudbusting.
On the next part of the tour, we went back downstairs and stopped on the second floor. This massive space was much like the layout of the first floor, but included: Reich’s office, library, medical exam room, and his closet still full of a few lab coats, clothes, and shoes. His library was three walls of books, with an autographed photo of Freud, Leather bound first edition of Freud books, photos of Reich's son and his two daughters, and chairs, tables, set around.
The windows in this place though, what a perfect setting.
It was easy to see why Reich moved from New York to Rangeley, ME to be in dry air, open clear space, with a spectacular view of the sky. Everything was original in this museum an information is available on the Wilhelm Rich Trust website.
After the tour of the inside, we were encouraged to explore Wilhelm Reich's tomb and Cloudbusting machine, and his outdoor classroom. He had students at his home at one time.
This is the outdoor classroom:
And here is a cloudbuster next to Reich's tomb:
Below: Wilhelm Reich's Tomb. It's right next to the cloudbuster (above).
There are also many trails to explore in the area, maps are available, and the trails are clearly marked. The Trail of Thoughts was marked with wooden plaques of Wilhelm Reich quotes along the way.
Driving out of Orgonon:
When we returned home, I couldn’t stop looking up things about Wilhelm Reich. I had and still have so many questions. There is so much about Wilhelm Reich, and I made some interesting discoveries that I would like to learn more about, such as how he may have thought he was in an intergalactic alien war, and busted UFOs in the clouds with his son. It's all pretty wacky, but super intriguing. I wish I knew more about his students and the actual experiments.
The entire controversy that stopped Wilhelm Reich in the first place is not entirely clear in the Cloudbusting song by Kate Bush. I had thought it was because of Reich's cloudbusting machine, but it had to do with the thought that his orgasmic energy experiments were pornography, click here for an interesting article about that. I have no idea one way or another, I don't know much about all that part of his research at all. I didn’t get to see much or learn about what he actually did with these particular experiments, except a bit about how he believed Orgone accumulators could help cure cancer and other diseases. The Documentary and other materials at the museum go into this more. I imagine his books go more into about his works.
What intrigued me in the first place was Kate Bush's 'Cloudbusting', and the concept of what the cloudbusters were meant for. I am still fascinated by this. I continued looking up cloudbusting, and things about the Kate Bush video, because I had no prior knowledge to the actual story. It was all because of Kate Bush, and years later, finding out that this story is based in my own state of Maine. I learned that Kate was playing Peter Reich, Wilhelm’s young son, in her video, and Donald Sutherland was playing Wilhelm Reich.
Reich's son, Peter is still alive, and I just finished reading his book, originally published in 1973, “A Book of Dreams: A memoir of Wilhelm Reich”, I have also seen in places that it says it was published in 1989, perhaps that was a second printing. I do know it is rare in its original publication, and expensive. I would love to have a copy just to hold and read. The hard copy is available, and was printed in 2015, which is titled: A Book of Dreams: The Book That Inspired Kate Bush's Hit Song 'Cloudbusting'.
This is a magnificent book, and includes much praise on the new front and back cover.
For example, on the cover, Ken Kesey, writer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest says, "My God your book is beautiful!"
On the back cover, John Lennon wrote: "I enjoyed Reich's Dreams very much."
"Cloudbusting was inspired by a book that I found in a shop. . . Written by a guy called Peter Reich, and it's called A Book of Dreams. And it's very unusual, beautiful book, written by this man through the eyes of himself when he was a child, looking at his father, and the relationship between them. Very special relationship, his father meant so much to him." —Kate Bush
I loved reading this book, and it helped me grasp where we had just visited. This was/is an actual event, laboratory, and a strange experience for a child to grow up in. Right here in Maine. A place where I've visited before, but had never known of this story or of Wilhelm Reich. All I can say is, read the book, whether or not you've been to the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust Museum. If you do get a chance to visit, you should. Even if you think this is all wacky: the scenery, the memorabilia, relics, trails, and the story are all fascinating. This is kind of a buried thing that happened right here in Maine.
Peter Reich includes his experience with Film Maker, Dusan Makavejev at Rangely in A Book of Dreams. Dusan's film:
WR: Mysteries of the Organism (This film is streaming on Hulu and it is worth it to also view the interview with Dusan Makavejev which has Tuli Kupferberg from The Fugs in the film.)
There is so much information and so many articles about Wilhelm Reich out there, including Reich's own books. Also of interest, are things in Popular Culture over the years such as Kate Bush's song, and more.
Before Kate Bush, Patti Smith had even written a song inspired by Peter Reich's A Book of Dreams. Patti does "Birdland" from the early seventies album "Horses". Song on sections of Peter Reich's "A Book of Dreams" about his childhood and visions of Wilhelm Reich's return on a UFO to rescue Peter.
Here's a link to an interesting article about Wilhelm Reich, popular culture, songs, and more: Very Different Tonight: The Contagious Nightmares of Wilhelm Reich
The band, Hawkwind, with Lemmy, yes, THE Lemmy on this track. Lemmy was with the band from about 1971-1975, until he was fired, and then became part of Motorhead.
Hawkwind's 'Orgone Accumulator'
Here are more links articles and videos that may (or may not) be of interest:
Dr. Wilhelm Reich Scientific Genius – or Medical Madman?
"The Legacy of Wilhelm Reich, M.D."
Dr Wilhelm Reich vs FDA! Full Film.
About Wilhelm Reich's Paintings
What is Orgone Energy & What is an Orgone Energy Accumulator?