I’ve never been to Austin, Texas but apparently East Austin is on the list of “America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods”…well, at least according to Forbes magazine so it must be true. And when it comes to hipsters, one shouldn’t be too surprised if something “eclectic” makes an appearance. Jen and Scott Webel operate one a museum out of their East Austin home. It’s called the Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata.
According to the Webels, ephemerata can be classified as anything with a lifespan, like “something that is thrown out, but is thought to have cultural value later on.” That even includes your eye boogers (yes, the museum’s got a tiny glass bottle full of them). During weekly donation-only tours, visitors can hear the stories behind the various artifacts of the museum’s “impermanent collection,” like clippings of Elvis Presley’s sideburns, a 4-foot narwhal tooth, contraband stalagtite, Marilyn Monroe’s last cigarette, a leaf from a holy Bodhi Tree, and a group of shells sitting around a table playing cards. You know, just your “normal” museum artifacts. There’s even an entire “wing” dedicated to sleep. How hipstery!
All joking aside, this isn’t just random stuff. There’s actually some history to the place. Scott Webel’s great grand-uncle Rolls Joyce, Jr. started the museum collection in 1921. But after his death in the 1940s, the relics were boxed up and forgotten in a shed until Scott and Jenn unearthed them in 1999. They created a museum that is dedicated to the history of collecting, specifically “preserving endangered modes of collecting.” It’s like a mix of a Cabinet of Curiosity with a Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. From what I read on Yelp, many visitors enjoy this strange little museum, although one reviewer called the Webels geniuses for getting people to pay to look at weird stuff. “Gosh! What crafty, entrepreneurial, capitalistic hippies.” But their pet cat jumps through hoops. How can you not like that!?!