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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In graduate school I had a friend who ate nothing but oatmeal because he claimed he was fat and this was the only way he could lose weight. In somewhat unrelated news, I gained, like, 40 pounds while I was in grad school so maybe I should have followed his diet. Or maybe I shouldn’t have eaten a bag of crisps every other hour. Oh, the stress! Anyway, about 50 miles north of Austin in the town of Bertram, Texas they have an Oatmeal Festival every Labor Day weekend. It began in 1978 as a spoof of the many chili cook-offs that are held throughout the state. Ken Odiorne of the neighboring unincorporated town of Oatmeal (but of course!) dreamed it all up and wrote to all the major producers of oatmeal cereal. But only National Oats, the makers of 3 Minutes Oats, responded. At the festival the cooks eat boiled okra and bake cow chip cookies. While the mascots of the festival are Ms. Bag, Groaty Oat, and Miss Cookie and Miss Muffin. And then there is the 20 ft. can of the 3 Minute Brand, the largest can of oatmeal in the world.
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In graduate school I had a friend who ate nothing but oatmeal because he claimed he was fat and this was the only way he could lose weight. In somewhat unrelated news, I gained, like, 40 pounds while I was in grad school so maybe I should have followed his diet. Or maybe I shouldn’t have eaten a bag of crisps every other hour. Oh, the stress! Anyway, about 50 miles north of Austin in the town of Bertram, Texas they have an Oatmeal Festival every Labor Day weekend. It began in 1978 as a spoof of the many chili cook-offs that are held throughout the state. Ken Odiorne of the neighboring unincorporated town of Oatmeal (but of course!) dreamed it all up and wrote to all the major producers of oatmeal cereal. But only National Oats, the makers of 3 Minutes Oats, responded. At the festival the cooks eat boiled okra and bake cow chip cookies. While the mascots of the festival are Ms. Bag, Groaty Oat, and Miss Cookie and Miss Muffin. And then there is the 20 ft. can of the 3 Minute Brand, the largest can of oatmeal in the world.

(Image Source)

The architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed 1141 buildings, but only 532 were actually completed during his lifetime. Many have since been demolished with only 400 buildings still standing. But did you know he designed a cat house? In the early 1950s, Gerald Tonkens commissioned Wright’s office to design and build his family’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Tonkens’ daughter, Nancy, had a cat named Felinus and she requested an appropriate residence for the family pet. So the office designed a modern cat house in Wright’s favorite color, Cherokee Red. This important piece of feline design, along with the original rendering shown above, has passed through the hands of various auction houses and antique dealers over the years until it was recently acquired by the Feline Historical Museum in Alliance, Ohio, which I bet you didn’t know even existed. The museum not only displays the Wright-designed cat house but a large collection of historical feline artifacts like an early 1900’s wooden cat carrier, a 19th century scrapbook of cat memorabilia and over 1,400 cat-related books as well as real, live cats like Maine Coons and Ragdolls.

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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