Being a Brief and altogether Spurious History of the Burtonian Institute
The origins, history, location, purpose and, indeed, very veracity of the organization known as The Burtonian Institute are shrouded in some confusion. It is, in many ways, the proverbial mystery wrapped within an enigma wrapped within a light, flaky crust. Everyone from the Chthonian deities to the Bavarian Illuminati to the very confused executor of James Smithson's estate has been credited and/or blamed for it at some point.
So we're going to go the time-tested, scholarly route here and just make shit up.
The Institute's charter states that it was founded in multiple places across multiple timelines, and that it might just be founded again if you don't watch that smart mouth of yours, young man and/or lady. The founder is identified variously in this document as: (a) one Benedict Arnold Cummerbatch (no relation), a 17th century podiatrist from Shropshire famous for his landmark treatise on the diagnosis and treatment of the condition we know today as "monkey foot"; (b) Lem-El of Krypton, the ancestor Superman never talks about; (c) Ethelred Fassbinder (again, no relation), a teacher's aide at the DeVry Academy of Supervillainry in 2356, who suffered an unfortunate time-travel accident during an ill-considered scheme to gain tenure; (d) that guy, you know the one we mean. All of these statements are true, in the sense that someone typed them up and stuck them on the Internet. (see: Wikipedia)
The Institute's symbol and patron is Pallas Athenae, the Greek goddess of Knowledge, Truth, Culture, Civilization and Stabbing Long, Sharp Pointy Things Into People (Pro Tip: don't ever call her "Forehead Baby"). Plus she had that cool clockwork owl in Clash of the Titans, which probably cinched things when the Advisory Board put it to a vote.
The Museum Wing of the Institute (artist's conception):
This remarkable structure, fabled in song, story and one or two fairly unprintable limericks, is rumored to house, among a great many other wonders:
- Excalibur and the Masamune
- da Vinci's rough draft of the Mona Lisa
- the lost Robert Johnson tracks
- an original 12" G.I. Joe, mint-in-box
Insiders whisper that the Institute's Library contains a copy of every book ever written, past, present and future, in every language ever. Unfortunately, most of the interesting ones are up on the really high shelves, and what's reachable is usually just page after page of, "You totally stole this idea from me — Jorge Luis Borges". Reeeaaalllly funny, Infinite Number of Monkeys!!
Nemo autem libenter dolorem asino!
(Note: This sort of petered out because I ran out of ideas, so I thought I'd end with the Latin equivalent of "Nobody likes a smartass". However, Google Translate re-translates this as "Pain in the ass, no one is glad." Close enough. — BI)