Museums of the Mundane

We are obsessed with chronicling history—immortalizing the past behind glass in a bevy of beguiling museums. But while it makes sense that dinosaurs, mummies and Monet have become the bread and butter of curators across the globe, there are also plenty of museums that seek to show off stranger and much less enthralling fare.

In fact, a lot of museums out there seem downright mundane. You'd be surprised how much culture you're getting just by rolling out of bed:

7am Sunday morning. You drag yourself out of deep reverie and sit up in your bed.

Jiangnan Hundred-Bed Museum

Located in Wu Zhen, China, this museum is a 1200-square-foot snooze fest—literally. It houses dozens of beds from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

7:15am. You successfully extricate yourself from your sheets and stumble into the kitchen. You pop a prepackaged pastry into the toaster.

The Toaster Museum

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Compiled by the Toaster Museum Foundation, this eye-popping collection of more than 500 toasters currently resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. They've got everything from pre-electric 19th century toasting forks to appliances designed by Michael Graves.

7:16am. You peel a banana.

The International Banana Club Museum

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Who knew that Altadena, California, was home to the world's largest collection of banana-related paraphernalia? With everything from "hard" items (their words, not mine), including an ancient petrified banana, to banana clothing, this place has a certain appeal. Be warned though, according to their Web site: "Nothing lude, crude or lucivious to do with bananas is accepted or displayed in this B.M."

Drat.

8am. Come on, dude, brush your teeth already! You fire up your electric toothbrush.

Toothbrush Museum

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Although it's only available online, this Swedish museum boasts more than 2,500 pictures of the dental tool. It's like every little anal-retentive child's dream come true.

9am. After thoroughly brushing, you decide to surf the web. So you fire up your computer.

Computer History Museum

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Appropriately situated in Silicon Valley, this monument to technology houses everything from the Babbage Engine to an exhibit on the history of computer chess.

11am. Your husband/wife/significant other/mother/father tells you to get off the computer and mow the lawn because the neighborhood association is complaining about your unruly grass length. You go to the garage and hunt for the lawnmower.

British Lawnmower Museum

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A museum entirely devoted to cutting grass, this place has the best tagline ever: "It's all you need to mow."

12pm. Mowing the lawn makes you feel ever so industrious. You decide to pay your bills. Being a fan of licking things, you have not yet switched to online billing. You break out the stamps.

Post Mark Museum and Research Library

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With over a million different postal items, this Ohio museum has the largest collection of mail-related items in the world. (Maybe that's where all my magazines went after I changed addresses"¦)

1pm. Inspired by this article, you decide to head out to a museum and get yourself some culture.

MuseumLink's Museum of Museums

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A work in progress, this Web site seeks to aggregate all the museums in the country (and Canada) in one place. Check it out next time you're in the mood to browse everything from mummies and Monet to the utterly mundane.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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