Start Your Own Museum

Ye Ol' Watering Hole & Beer Can Museum -- Northampton, MA

Ye Ol’ Watering Hole & Beer Can Museum — Northampton, MA

Several of our friends are going through the process of “downsizing”.  Over the years, we all accumulate stuff that, through sentimentality or laziness, we have a hard time throwing away.  Hey, there’s always a chance that I’ll need some of those telephone cords that are in a box in my garage.

To give you an idea of how our belongings expand over time, consider this:  According to the website of The Self-Storage Association, “The self-storage industry in the United States generated more than $22 billion in annual U.S. revenues (2012).”  Of course, if it’s in a storage unit, that suggests that the stuff is overflow from the house or apartment where it had previously been clutter.

Putting it in a storage unit is one solution.  The downsizers take a different approach, getting rid of unneeded things so they can live in a smaller space.

A third option is to move to a bigger place and fill it up with grandma’s sweaters, the tire chains for the car you no longer own, and all the other goodies we can’t bear to part with.

OR — you could start your own museum.

As they sifted through the objects with which they were sharing space, some of my downsizer friends have discovered that they owned collections they didn’t realize they had.  Sally and I had probably given them some of the drink coasters that somehow wound up in the back of a drawer and now number in the hundreds.  What they do with them now is their business — yard sale, charity donation — I’m just saying, they have enough to open a Museum of Coasters.

That may sound a little far-fetched, but you might be surprised at some of the unusual museums around the world.

In Rüdesheim, Germany, Sally and I visited Siegfried’s Self-Playing Music Museum.  It was a collection of music boxes and elaborate cabinets that held violins and piano keyboards and, so help me, even banjos.  When the machinery was set in motion by something that looked like a player-piano roll, the instruments would bang out a tune.

If you find yourself in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you won’t want to miss the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, which has thousands on display.

A man named Gary Doss turned his extensive collection into the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia.  It’s just a short drive from San Francisco International Airport.  Among other things, there are hundreds of Pez dispensers, including the world’s largest — it’s almost 8 feet tall.

Ye Ol’ Watering Hole & Beer Can Museum in Northampton, Massachusetts, has over 4,000 beer cans — none are duplicates.  Several years ago I bought an official T-shirt there; it’s now part of my growing collection of souvenir T-shirts.

In Madrid, Spain, we briefly stopped in at Museo del Jamon (Museum of Ham).  Frankly, it’s more of a restaurant than it is an actual museum.  Besides, if you’re considering my proposal to start your own museum, you probably don’t have a lot of old hams stashed around your house.

It’s also possible that you don’t want a lot of strangers tramping through your home, gawking at your extensive collection of refrigerator magnets or trowels or whatever.  If you’re adamant about not opening a museum, maybe you want to think about selling your stuff online.  Then, with the money you make, you can buy more stuff!

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6 responses to “Start Your Own Museum

  1. Yep. A friend of mine went to help her father clean out the attic and found a box labeled “pieces of string to small to use”… and he wouldn’t let her throw it out.

  2. Having had some experience with this sort of thing, I’m guessing that those tiny bits of string were at the bottom of a box that was originally used to ship a chair. Thanks for your comment, Rick.

  3. We just missed a chance to go to the Spam Museum in Austin, Minn.

    • According to the Spam Museum’s website, it is “home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artifacts.” So far, no other museum has disputed that claim.

  4. Museum of ham? Damn you Tom, you’ve eaten the exhibit!

    • They sort of encourage the consumption of ham at Museo del Jamon. I walked in expecting, you know, dioramas depicting historic moments in the history of ham and that sort of thing, but it was pretty much guys with knives standing next to heat lamps.

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