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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Just an hour’s drive from Vienna is the small village of Herrnbaumgarten. Located near the Czech border and next to the wine village of Poysdorf (did someone say wine?) many people view this town in Lower Austria as a quirky place. Travel groups from Asia and other parts of Europe make a point to stop here. Maybe that’s because it’s home to the Nonseum, a museum created in 1983 by two locals named Fritz Gall and Friedl Umscheid who decided to offer a permanent place to display exotic inventions that never took off. Yes, you read that right - a museum dedicated to inventions that nobody really needs (think the Body Laptop Wooly Jumper or Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos). The exhibit is full of hundreds of useless and somewhat amusing items, like a heated garden gnome, a champagne cork catcher, finger nail guillotines, a foldable snow sled, a cane with wheels, high heel protectors, a wine chess table, transparent playing cards, and even an umbrella for sun lovers. It sounds like they have everything, well, except for a Jump to Conclusions Mat.

(Image Source 1, 2, 3, 4)

If I had to take a guess, I’d assume this next museum is a personal favourite of the Chicken Lady. Once located in the centre of Seoul, the Museum of Chicken Art has now moved to northern Gyeonggi-do as the Maniker Museum of Chicken Art. If you’re wondering if it is possible to fill an entire museum with “chicken art”, well, one Korean, a retired public health professor named Kim Cho Gang, has proved everyone wrong, as she is utterly obsessed with the bird. She has a varied collection of 2,000 items from wood carvings, paintings, puppets, clocks and embroidery to pieces of furniture, tea cups, stamps, wine bottles and trash cans. Kim Cho Gang has said,  “I do not buy luxuries. I don’t buy cosmetics. I am only indulged in chickens…Whenever I make money, I mostly spend it buying chicken art pieces.” And she certainly has. After a law was passed that empowered for-profit private museums (and that explains why South Korea has so many quirky collections like the Teddy Bear Museum and the Owl Art & Craft Museum) the Chicken Art Museum officially opened in 2006. Although the bird is associated with many important life events, Kim Cho Gang was afraid it wasn’t being fully appreciated. Ancient Koreans believed the chicken was a symbol of fertility, wealth, success, and even death. The museum displays wooden sculptures called kkok-du, which were traditionally used to decorate Korean coffins. But does the museum answer the age-old question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” I guess they’d say “the chicken”.

(Image Source 1 & 2)

Believe it or not, college fraternities did not invent the drinking game (okay, maybe beer pong but who wants to play that except idiot douchebags?). Consuming alcoholic beverages and playing games simultaneously dates back to antiquity. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston just opened the brand new Kunstkammer Gallery, which is similar to a collector’s cabinet in that it displays over a hundred intricately crafted oddities of dissimilar origin made of exotic materials, like coconut shells and intricate metalwork. One such item is a mechanized wine vessel that’s been brought back to life after 200 years, proving that European aristocrats knew how to live like it was 1699. Apparently back in the 17th century automata were pulled out to impress friends at dinner parties. The Diana and Stag Automaton, which moves and zig-zags across the table, was created in about 1610-1620 by Joachim Fries, a famous German goldsmith. It is called ‘Trinkspiel’, which literally translates to ‘drinking game’. Take that, frats! This is how it works - the host of the party would remove the stag’s head and fill the cavity with wine. Then he or she would crank the device’s key and send it buzzing around the table. If the automaton stopped in front of you, it would be your duty to drain the ornate vessel without it spilling all over your fabulous clothes. Anyway, the mechanical object was restored with the help of German watchmaker Rolf Lang, who re-created its original motor. Here is a video of the automaton all wound up. And if you think this is a one-of-a-kind item, there is another “Diana and Stag” with its original mechanism at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, which makes me wonder if these things were the plastic cup of their day?