The entrance to the exhibit.<><> My partner called me over, shouting across a dense crowd gathered around a monitor.On it was a montage, similar to the other ones that were scattered around the Guillermo del Toro exhibit, called “At Home With Monsters” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Each one showed a bunch of scenes from his films, centered around a theme. Each room in the hall–or rather sectioned off areas–had a theme. From del Toro’s obsession with Frankenstein and monsters to the artwork of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart as compared to his fascination with the gothic. There was a statue of H.P. Lovecraft down the way from mannequins dawning the fashions from del Toro’s Crimson Peak. It was all there.The hall was modeled off of del Toro’s Bleak House, which is famously filled with collectibles and art that represent his own aesthetic and inspirations. The filmmaker has a unique style, unheard of in today’s mainstream cinema, and it’s been shaped for decades through horror comics, pulp sci-fi films, and the works of Lovecraft, Dickens, Poe, and Shelley.The monitor held something different, though something much smaller and more subtle.“I never thought of it this way before,” he told us.On it was a compilation of scenes from del Toro’s films, but focused around a single concept: a hole. His films are filled with them, which is a pun I didn’t intend to make. Whether it’s people peering into them, falling into them, or a camera pulling back through a keyhole (one of del Toro’s favorites), the man’s works are almost identical in this way. It’s not that del Toro doesn’t have a unique bone in his body. It’s that the hole represents something that can’t be put into words for the characters. It’s a glance into the unknown, a sign of the things to come. It’s a literal and metaphorical abyss.“Oh yeah,” I said. “There’s holes all over the place.” It seemed obvious to me at the time, although I can’t be sure if it’s something I noticed before.My partner’s face was enraptured; his eyes wide and his mouth agape. It was a look I recognized around the exhibit. Not everyone appeared as joyful, but some you could see lit up when faced with a painting from del Toro’s own collection, or some writings from his notebooks on the ideas for the kaiju depicted in Pacific Rim.There are some pieces that stand out, and attract the most visitors–the aforementioned Crimson Peak mannequins, and statues of the monsters from Pan’s Labyrinth, for instance–but it’s the small things that make me stop. There’s Hellboy’s costume tucked into a corner, a collection of Marvel comics, a sketch of a horse with no head and a shadow figure sitting atop it.I can only assume there’s a combination of reactions going on, as people have different relationships with del Toro. When I told my mother I was heading out there, she didn’t even know who he was. For my partner, it was the pieces of trivia that defined del Toro’s films.For me, it was the whole dark fantasy. Bleak House is a dream destination for weird kids. Walking around the exhibit, I saw my childhood laid out before me. I’m no del Toro. I’m not nearly as artistic or creative, but we had the same fascinations. A section on freak shows brought me back to high school when I watched Freaks for the first time. Frankenstein, one of my favorite novels, came to life as a full-sized statue in one of the corners of the hall. We both connected with monsters, and how literature can take the horrible and make it more complicated and human.Guillermo del Toro is a hero for the weird, quirky kid, the ones that read a lot and dragged their parents to the library after school. He’s somebody who has such a joy and fascination with the things he creates, and that’s something that permeates every piece of the LACMA exhibit. You see photos and videos of del Toro online, a big smile stretched across his bearded face, and you think that he must have the most wonderful time doing anything. It’s in this exhibit you see where that comes from and the obsession that goes along with every small bit of his work.Everything is part of the del Toro machine. Poe leads into Lovecraft, which leads into Marvel, ghost stories, and Mexican wrestlers.Everyone will probably have a different opinion on the exhibit, especially as it goes on national tour after it ends its stay in Los Angeles in November. The over 500 objects don’t even come close to capturing the full scale of what I assume lines the walls of his home, but it tells a full story. But the kind of person you are can determine which part of that story you experience. My partner, the film buff, saw the art as inspirations for certain shots and motifs that permeate his films. The freak in me saw the stories and the characters. Maybe somebody just saw the monsters and thought they were cool (one kid, possibly around ten years old, mistook the creature from Pan’s Labyrinth as something from Harry Potter).The exhibit is just as multi-faceted as del Toro is, and maybe even more so. It exposes the timeline of his work that del Toro himself might not even be aware of and allows people to examine their inspirations. It’s just super cool.