Jadis – Santa Monica, California - Atlas Obscura


Legendary prop shop filled with one man's collection of scientific curiosities. 


Filled to the brim with antique scientific instruments and sci-fi movie paraphernalia, Jadis was part prop rental store and part science history museum. Above all things, it’s an extensive collection that speaks to the passion and character of one man, founder Parke Meek. 

Meek, an accomplished furniture designer and antique collector, opened Jadis over thirty years ago with his partner, Susan Leiberman. The two met while working for the famed Eames design team and later began their own furniture design business. With the focus on Meek’s extensive private collection of scientific curiosities, the business eventually evolved into a prop rental company. Items from Meek’s collection have appeared in dozens of films and television series, including Batman and Robin, X-Files and Waterworld. The storefront window features a replica of the robot from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and the famous dream-stealing headpiece from City of Lost Children rests in a glass case in the back. Despite his success, Meek often kept the front door of Jadis locked, only opening his business to movie studios or serious private collectors. He later opened it up to the public for a few hours throughout the week, allowing visitors to peruse the overstuffed aisles for a mere $1 admission fee – a nice gesture that has continued even after his death in early 2010. These days, Jadis is run by Leiberman (who also runs the adjacent vintage bridal shop, Paris 1900) and Meek’s longtime pal, Mel Bloch. Bloch often enthusiastically greets visitors by asking “Would you like to know where you are?” before sharing a brief history of Meek’s life. Bloch’s personal anecdotes offer a colorful account of his old friend, but it’s in perusing the collection that one begins to fully understand Meek’s passion. Giant gears spin in the storefront window, obscuring an original generator built by Nikola Tesla himself (though it’s in working condition, Bloch maintains that it’s illegal to turn on). Nearby, antique orreries and celestial spheres line the shelves, next to various Tesla coils, Van de Graaf generators and odd antique medical devices. Though most of the items are genuine instruments, there are also some imaginative creations of Meek’s own design. Set pieces, such as elaborate switchboards and giant coils are dispersed throughout the shop, blurring the distinction between reality and fantasy and setting the backdrop for what many describe as a “mad scientist’s lab.”

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