This Belongs in a Museum

Once called the "Stephen Fry of Museum Blogging," this tumblog, written by a frustrated museologist, is dedicated to the small, random museums and weird attractions of the world. Always informative, usually funny, sometimes offensive.

Bringing you museum-approved grammatical errors and typos since 2010.

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With the exception of a few random places like Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, Vishala Environmental Centre for Heritage and Arts’ Utensils Museum and Sudha Cars Museum, the blog hasn’t spent much time in India. Well, let me change that with this next post. Second only to the Taj Mahal in India’s tourism department, the Rock Garden of Chandigarh is probably one of the best known examples of outsider art. Beginning in 1957, government official Nek Chand began collecting materials from demolition sites in his spare time. He then made art out of the scrap and other waste materials, using bottles, glass, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, and sinks. But he had to work in secret because he was using a location near Sukhna Lake in a deeply-wooded gorge, which had been designated as a land conservancy. By the time the authorities found out in 1975 Chand’s garden had grown into a 12-acre complex (today it is over 40 acres) of man-made interlinked waterfalls and courtyards filled with hundreds of concrete sculptures. You’d think a one-of-a-kind sanctuary would have faced the bulldozers. But despite protests and calls for Chand to be punished, the rock garden was turned into a public space and the artist continued his work. In 1990, a road for the exclusive use of VIPs was to be built right through the middle of the garden and trees were cleared for its construction. There was a lengthy court battle, eventually resulting in victory. But when Chand left the country in 1996 the government withdrew its funding and the park was vandalised. That incident, and the governmental scandal that resulted from it, birthed the Nek Chand Foundation, a non-profit organization that ensures his work will remain preserved, protected and open to the public for many years to come.

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The Japanese Rural Toy Museum, founded in 1967, is hidden behind a bunch of old warehouses in the back alleys of Kurashiki. Hundreds of handmade and antique toys from different parts of Japan are displayed in four rooms of a converted rice storehouse, including over 200 kites plus bells and whistles, miniature floats, antique Japanese dolls and masks, traditional Kurashiki Hariko (hand-painted papier-mache figurines), and spinning tops. The museum’s owner Ohga Hiroyuki is actually in the Guinness World Book of Records for spinning a giant top for 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 57 seconds in 1983. Unfortunately, the record has since been broken by someone else, using a custom-made top Ohga had designed. But if you ask, he will do a little demonstration for you. Of course not for over an hour. You can also purchase a toy of your own in the attached shop, which sells regional toys, crafts and artwork.

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Siberia is a lonely place. One woman in the far away remote village of Kamarchaga, located in the Siberian Taiga, has found a very entertaining hobby to help pass the time. Russian pensioner Olga Kostina has decorated her wooden home with over 30,000 plastic bottle caps. Over several years she collected caps from soda bottles and began using them to decorate the walls of her house with colorful patterns and images. Using a hammer and nails, she placed every single bottle cap by hand to create traditional macrame motifs and various images of creatures living in the neighboring woodland. Her home has become a local landmark. And she’s not planning on stopping her work until her house and adjacent structures are completely covered in bottle caps. Something tells me that she has the time. 

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