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.
Because Black History Month ends tomorrow and this week’s theme seems to be all about wax, I believe this is the perfect time to tell you about Oran Z’s Pan African Black Facts and Wax Museum. Located in the middle of a strip mall in south Los Angeles, this sprawling museum isn’t just full of famous black figures cast in wax (like President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall above). No, it’s also home to thousands of Black Americana artifacts, everything from slave shackles and once-popular “Mamie” cookie jars to a flag signed by Barack Obama and an African-American reference library. There are old advertisements, Negro League baseball memorabilia, postcards, toys, sheet music, KKK paraphernalia and even antique Kente cloths. If you’re lucky, the owner Oran Z. Belgrave (who also happens to be the inventor of the World’s Fastest Hair Weaver, which has its own museum display and is available for purchase in the shop of course) will give you a personal tour. According to Oran Z, he is ”just a collector…I present the figures and the facts, and it’s up to you to interpret what’s important. I collect everything African-American. If it’s for blacks, against blacks, I collect it all.” This whole thing began decades ago when Oran Z collected cookie jars and play dolls of African-American design. His collection grew to include African-American documents, books and wax figures. In December of 1999, his collection became a museum, bankrolled with his highly successful hair-weaving product. The museum quickly outgrew its original 2,000-square-foot space and adjacent 14,000-square-foot storage. Now six shipping containers sit behind the building housing separate collections, including “Holocaust of Black America,” with a partly reconstructed slave ship and racks of black mannequins shackled to wood frames. He hosts field trips and community events where children can learn more about African culture, and hopes many of his exhibits will travel across the country to be displayed in schools. Unfortunately, his museum might be forced to move or close due to a redevelopment and gentrification plan. ”I guess they don’t think it’s a good idea to have a black museum owned by a black man located in a black neighborhood on Martin Luther King Boulevard,” says Oran Z.
Today would have been George Harrison’s 70th birthday if he was still with us. So what better way to honour it than with this random photo from the Czech Museum of Music. A few years ago the museum had a special exhibit full of Beatles memorabilia, including wax models of the Fab Four standing in front of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album cover. Just another addition to my ever-growing collection of creepy wax. Hey, remember this one? Or what about wax making wax?
Tonight is the 85th Academy Awards aka The Oscars aka The Big Night For The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences aka These Are The Stupid People Who Gave An Oscar To Gwyneth Freakin’ Paltrow. Anyway, long before Hollywood was Hollywood, it was a citrus ranch. In 1895, a barn was built on what is now Selma and Vine Streets that housed horses, carriages, hay and other farm supplies. Nearly twenty years later in March of 1913, the Burns and Revier Studio and Laboratory was established inside the barn. That same year, Cecil B. DeMille* and Jesse Lasky, leased the barn and studio facilities for $250.00 a month and began production of The Squaw Man, the first feature film to be produced in Hollywood. After being moved around a lot, this landmark building was boarded up and abandoned until a permanent site could be found. Today the restored barn is home to the Hollywood Heritage Museum, now located at the southern end of the Hollywood Bowl parking lot. Open since 1985, the museum features archival photographs, film props, historical documents, postcards and even a recreation of Mr. DeMille’s office complete with a typewriter, film canisters, movie posters and of course booze. And on special occasions called “Evenings at the Barn,” visitors get a chance to see silent films. ”All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up”…Sunset Boulevardreceived 11 Academy Award nominations, and won only 3. And that there’s your Oscar trivia, folks!
*Did you know Richard DeMille, son of Cecil, was the personal assistant of Scientology founder of L. Ron Hubbard? The cult, I mean religion, is a Hollywood thing so if it wasn’t for that barn maybe Battlefield Earth would never have been made.
In its two-and-a-half year existence, this blog has covered a random teapot museum in Tennessee, a tea museum no longer with us and even a Hitler teapot…so one more tea related thing can’t hurt. Everybody loves a cuppa. Open since last summer, J’s Tea-rific Teapot Museum in teeny tiny Elloree, South Carolina isn’t just any old teapot museum. It is located in a 20-foot-long blue teapot, supposedly the world’s largest! Attached to the back of the pharmacy owned by Julian and Sybil Boland, the museum has been years in the making. The Boland’s collection, started over 20 years ago, now reportedly numbers in the tens of thousands with items from Turkey, the Netherlands, England and India. Each teapot has a specific place in the museum, usually displayed in some kind of theme. For instance, Boland hired a carpenter to construct shelves to resemble Noah’s Ark so dozens of teapots can tell the biblical story. Remember when God instructs Noah to gather two of each animal? Well, dozens of animal pairs in the form of teapots are aboard the “shelving” ark with the main attraction being a biblical teapot telling the story of Noah’s Ark. Sounds kinda meta. The collection also includes teacarts, tea services and anniversary-themed teapots. The museum is literally flooded with teapots. (See what I did there?) And what would a teapot museum be without tea? I mean, of course there’s no cafe so I guess you can buy a box of 100 tea bags in the Boland’s drug store and pretend you’re drinking tea. Yeah.
Artist Dorr Bothwell’s sketch of visitors at the San Francisco Art Museum in 1942, part of “A Day at the Museum”, a museum exhibit about museum exhibits at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, open through 2 June 2013. Some of the items on display include famous artists’ letters, recorded stories, diary entries as well as sketches and photographs of museum visitors.
As a semi-vegetarian who tears up after seeing roadkill and would rather starve than hunt animals, I don’t know why I am posting these photos, but maybe it’s because I can’t believe such a place exists. Above La Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Agua Santa in Baños, Ecuador is a weird, little museum. Its collection consists of poorly kept taxidermy posed somewhat ridiculously, religious paintings, church vestments, military attire and toy trucks. Yes, you read that last part correctly. Toy trucks. This isn’t supposed to make any sense. Religion rarely does. Most of the items on display were donated by pilgrims visiting the church. So if weird animal dioramas covered in fake blood (PLUS TOY TRUCKS) is totally your thing, then I suggest you catch the next plane to South America. Send me a postcard!
As a non-believer in all things Saint Valentine (after all the “real” St. Valentine was beaten with clubs, stoned, and beheaded by Emperor Claudius…sounds so freakin’ romantic) I refuse to recognize the worst of all commercialised holidays, but let’s not forget…I am also a lazy asshole. So I’ve decided to bring back an old, revised post from two years ago. Enjoy!
Believe it or not, there is an actual Museum of Love. Well, it’s kind of made up but it’s out there for the world to see on the internet. Kris Waldherr is the author of Doomed Queens, Goddess Tarot and The Book of Goddesses so she obviously knows what the hell she’s talking about. I also heard she’s the author of Where’s My Entenmann’s Cake? (bad joke)
Here’s a description of the most romantic place on the web (her words, not mine): “The Museum of Love is intended as the most romantic destination on the web. All of the art and words that make up the Museum was created by Waldherr and adapted from her publications. The Museum of Love takes the form of the Museo di Palazzo Filomela, or the Palace of the Nightingale, set in a mythic Renaissance Venice.”
Unfortunately, the short film Museum of Love (directed by Christian Slater, expert on all things love) and Daniel Johnston’s song Museum of Love are completely unrelated to Kris Waldherr’s student love project. Too bad. Hey, anyone know where I can find the Museum of Hate? And always remember, kids…All You Need is Hate!!!
Yesterday Catholics all over the world found out they will soon get a new Pope. And whatever old white Catholic dude is chosen to next ride in the Popemobile, I’m sure he will not live up to the cream of the crop of old white Catholic dudes: Pope John Paul II. Did you know the Pope John Paul II Shrine in Washington D.C. is literally a shrine to this venerable, beatified, holiest of holys??? Even though John Paul II was one of the best-known, longest-serving Popes of all time (take that, Kanye), his museum/think tank was not very popular with the public. After the archdiocese discovered museums are costly, especially when nobody comes knocking at your door, the Knights of the Columbus purchased the building, and are currently giving it a bit of a makeover after ten years of existence. The papal memorabilia in the exhibit includes your typical religious items, like the Pope’s vestments and writings, found in the special “Papal and Polish Heritage Room.” That exhibit traces the Pope’s lifetime in four parts and focuses on his connection with the Jewish people. But the interesting part is learning about the Pope’s athletic abilities. Yes, this Polack put the ski in ski as visitors can check out his skis, poles and low-key exercise shoes. During his Popedom he made at least one-hundred clandestine trips to the Italian mountains dressed in ski apparel to participate in one of his favourite outdoor activities, skiing. He also enjoyed mountain climbing, hiking and kayaking. That’s just weird. Oh, and in case God hasn’t been answering your prayers, the first Popemobile lives on at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany. So now you know. God bless!