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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Every month I remind the readers of this blog about my obsession with all things small from mini-Paris in France (where else?) to Zarifa Salahova’s collection of miniature edition books in Azerbaijan. So why not write about a teeny tiny object that depicts a little couple on their wedding day? Part of the National Media Museum’s Royal Photographic Society Collection, this gilt locket contains 12 albumen prints from the 1863 wedding of General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren. Thumb was the star attraction at PT Barnum’s American Museum in New York City, so his marriage made the front page of both the New York Times and Harper’s Weekly. Their wedding reception was attended by over 10,000 people, most who paid $75 per ticket (which was a lot of money at the time and sounds like a freakin’ circus…sorry bad joke). The couple were so popular that President Lincoln received them at the White House. Barnum, who was always looking to make a quick buck, mass produced a commemorative wedding souvenir, which was called ‘Somebody’s Luggage’. In the shape and detail of a suitcase, it is only 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) high with a folding accordion of photo frames showing Barnum’s smallest performers (which also included best man Commodore Nutt and bridesmaid Minnie Warren) in various poses and costumes usually next to or sitting in a full sized chair to emphasize their small statures. Celebrated 19th century photographer Mathew Brady took the diminutive images. It is not known how many “suitcases” were actually made. Thumb died twenty years later of a stroke; soon after his wife married an Italian dwarf named Count Primo Magri. For a number of years they operated a famous roadside stand in Middleborough, Massachusetts.

One of my earliest posts, which was nothing more than a random photo, was on the Lunchbox Museum. And so here I am again four years later posting another random photo from the place. Maybe I got lunch on my mind…or maybe it’s Georgia…I don’t know?

Located in the Rivermarket Antique Mall in Columbus, Georgia, the museum is home to the world’s largest collection of vintage lunchboxes, which number around 2,000 (including that amazing Bee Gees set). Did you know that between 1951 and 1985, only 450 metal lunch boxes were released with distinctive character designs? Well, museum owner Allen Woodall has them all. My first lunchbox was a Strawberry Shortcake, which I still have at the back of a closet along with my high school bowling trophy (first place, bitches!) and my unfinished baby book (my mom likes to make stuff…she just never finishes anything).

Anyway, let’s talk about that photo. It’s discotastic. It makes me want to groove to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack while eating Lunchables, which was usually the only “food” one would find inside my plastic lunchbox in the late 1980s/early 1990s. But what makes that picture less than perfect is the missing brother - why didn’t Andy Gibb get his own lunchbox??? 

(Image Source)

The World Famous Crochet Museum (‘world famous’ usually means that you’ve never heard of it) is located in a 5-by-8-foot former plastic green Fotomat kiosk. It is part of the random ‘Art Queen Gallery’ (near the northern entrance of Joshua Tree National Park) that is run by Shari Elf, an artist who escaped Los Angeles to run this little ol’ museum and the rest of the compound, which is a collection of outdoor tables, metal rockers and oddball art projects.

The crochet collection really transcends the definition of a ‘museum’ as it is actually an installation art piece. The museum provides no history, text labels or how-to lessons. Elf doesn’t crochet herself, she just displays other peoples’ creations. She once said, “I have a love of things handmade and of things lovingly made often by little old ladies.” There’s no admission fee and no set hours. If the key is in the lock, you can let yourself in and if it isn’t, then you’re shit out of luck. Boo hoo! The place is so small, only two people can be inside at the same time. So claustrophobics beware. There are random items, such as Sesame Street and Winnie the Pooh characters, alligators and unicorns with googly eyes, as well as tiny crocheted angels. Like all museums, there are special galleries - a poodle wing and a chicken wing (no, not that kind of wing!). And the best part (besides being FREE) is that visitors can add their own folksy handicrafts to the collection.

(Image Source 2 & 3)