Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

Unique museum opens in downtown Allegan

Eric lifting a weighted can with his eyelids.

By Leslie Ballard

“There’s nothing like it on this side of the state,” said Eric Ross of his Museum Obscura located at 114 Locust Street.
The Museum is comprised of two rooms, the first devoted to what Eric refers to as “obscure history and oddities.” He became a fan of these after his visit to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum when he was 11.
Some of the exhibits in this room relate to the legendary chupacabra, physiological anomalies and President Lincoln.
“I’ve always been fascinated by odd stuff and weird history,” Eric admits.
Eric shares his interest in true crime in the second room, which showcases serial killer memorabilia he has collected over the years, some of it considered very rare. Visitors will see quite a collection of items belonging to the most infamous American serial killers such as Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, BTK and others.
Manson’s prison garb and harmonicas and quite a collection of Gacy paintings can be viewed in the displays that contain many objects of interest to true crime devotees.
“When I started collecting, there were only about 50 of us in the world collecting true crime items. Now there are hundreds.” While he is no longer actively collecting unless someone contact him, he makes sure he deals only with trusted sources.
As Eric points out, true crime is very popular, with documentaries routinely bringing in huge viewership numbers whether on Netflix, Amazon Prime or cable.
The museum opens March 30 and will rotate the exhibits as he has a large collection. He will announce the opening on
Admission is $10 for adults (13+) and $5 for children (5-13), and he will offer a monthly or annual fee for locals. Only a few of these museums exist in the US, and the ones in Georgia, Nevada and Tennessee charge around $25-35.
Eric, who was born and raised in Allegan and still lives here when not touring, has basically had two careers, the first in the field of magic. When he was 12 or 13, he rented a video about American Illusionist David Blaine, and “I fell in love with magic. I remember I wanted to be as good as David, now we’re buddies and he performs routines I’ve created.”
He began doing magic while attending Allegan High School and continued after he left school, honing his skills and performing on various television shows. Appearing on the Ellen Show “opened all the doors,” and Eric began performing and lecturing on magic and card magic around the world.
During his travels, he especially enjoyed his visit to Russia, where he was the guest of honor at a large convention in St. Petersburg. “The food there was amazing, and it’s a beautiful country.” He pointed to the art exhibits and museums and architecture – “art is everywhere.”
According to Eric, circus side shows and magic are different performance arts but they go together, and he gradually began learning skills like fire and glass eating. He is well known for his needle act in which he places stainless steel skewers into deep tissue in various parts of his body. He can also lift weights with his eyelids.
“There’s something fun about doing these crazy dangerous stunts and living through it – you don’t get that with card tricks,” he explained.
For the last 6-7 years Eric has been mostly focused on his sideshow act as that type of entertainment is most popular on tours.
He has wanted to do the Gavage Act for years. Matt “The Tub” Crowley from the Jim Rose Circus invented the trick in the early 1990’s, eventually sharing it with him and helping him learn every step of the process. The act involves inserting 7 feet of tubing through Eric’s nose and down to his stomach and then pumping 40 oz of beer, Hershey’s Syrup, Pepto Bismol and ketchup into the stomach.
The next part of the trick is not for the faint of heart, but Eric is happy to fill in visitors about “Bile Beer.”
He has done over 80 shows featuring the Gavage Act. He is happy that Matt is proud of him, and Jim Rose has been great and “happy to keep the legacy going.” To watch Eric in action, people can go to
While Eric plans to take this year off from performing, if he is lured back, his wife Brittney and children will take on responsibility for the Museum Obscura.
Brittney already has a full schedule working and going to college full-time as well as taking care of their 7 children, aged 5-14. Eric is proud of his family and reports that the children do well in school and are involved in many activities.
“I’m still just a dad no matter what I do. They’ve seen me on TV and on tour doing big shows, but when I am home, they say “you’re cool, but you’re still just our dad.’”

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