Karen Seifert, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Karen Seifert, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

10 Museums Devoted to Household Items

Karen Seifert, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Karen Seifert, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you like something enough, why not establish a museum for it? That philosophy likely gave birth to the ten institutions below, all very real museums from around the world that focus on one household item. From folding fans to typewriters and every flavor of mustard, these are brick-and-mortar homages to the products and devices we use every day.

1. WEIN MUSEUM UHRENMUSEUM (THE CLOCK MUSEUM) // VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The three floors of the Uhrenmuseum in Germany hold 3000 clocks, many of which set off an echoing chorus of chimes with every passing hour. Founded in 1917, the museum has a piece that is smaller than a thimble, and another that once kept time in a church steeple. According to Atlas Obscura, there is a 230-year-old astronomical clock with golden gears at the museum calibrated to keep time until the year 9999.

2. THE FAN MUSEUM // GREENWICH, LONDON

Adrian Long, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The Fan Museum opened in 1991 in southeast London and has an extensive collection of around 5000 fans and fan-related items that date back to the 11th century. The museum features permanent displays that chronicle the history of the devices, and temporary exhibits that focus on fans from specific regions, eras, and themes.

3. THE HAMMER MUSEUM // HAINES, ALASKA

Sean Hoyer, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Located in the small town of Haines (the “Adventure Capital of Alaska”), The Hammer Museum, with its 19-foot-tall sculpture out front, opened its door to the public in 2002. It's run entirely by unpaid volunteers. “From ancient times to the industrial age, the hammer tells the story of man’s progress and ingenuity,” reads the museum’s website. Visitors have a relatively narrow window to see the 1500 hammers on display, because the seasonal attraction is only open from May to September.

4. THE LONDON SEWING MACHINE MUSEUM // LONDON, ENGLAND

Diamond Geezer, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


The London Sewing Machine Museum is only open on the first Saturday of each month, so seeing the first Singer or the machine that belonged to Queen Victoria’s daughter will take thorough planning or a bit of luck. Although the place doesn't have many online reviews, those who've been there in the past couple of years seem to love it. A woman named Jane praised the museum’s collection of over 600 machines from 1850 to 1950 as being “unexpected treasures” that are “beautifully curated and displayed,” while another reviewer referred to the vintage machines as “fine examples of mechanical majesty.”

5. THE VACUUM CLEANER MUSEUM // SAINT JAMES, MISSOURI

This tribute to dirt suckers was founded in 2009 by a vacuum specialist named Tom Gasko, who has reportedly been obsessed with the machines since he was a boy. Having dedicated his life to selling vacuums, Gasko was also a collector, and it was with his personal collection that he was able to create the display of over 600 working models at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum. The collection reaches back to the early 1900s, and the museum’s website promises a look at vacuums once owned by celebrities.

6. THE SALT AND PEPPER SHAKER MUSEUM // GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE

Karen Seifert, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Started by a family of collectors, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum features around 20,000 pairs of shakers in various shapes and sizes, some of which are around 500 years old. From pop culture and fast food-themed shakers, to very ornate shakers and others shaped like cats, the collection at this museum is one that visitors tend to describe as “strange” or “awesome” or somewhere in the middle.

7. THE DINNERWARE MUSEUM // ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN

This non-profit in Ann Arbor, Michigan is dedicated to the undisputed heroes of every kitchen: the dinnerware. With exhibitions that focus on things like cake and “the art of high chair dining,” The Dinnerware Museum has just about every aspect of table culture covered. There is a cake stand from 2015, a 54-piece set from 1968, and a pearlware bowl from the 1800s, among other rare and interesting objects. If you’re into setting the table, this is the place for you.

8. THE TYPEWRITER MUSEUM // ITALY

There is an entire generation of people on this planet who have no idea what a typewriter is, which is why the Peter Mitterhofer Typewriter Museum (named after the inventor) is necessary. Founded in 1998 in the Bolzano region of Italy, the museum is based primarily around the collection of a man named Kurt Ryba, but also has models acquired through donations. There are over 2000 of the relics in the collection, which spans about 150 years, with notable pieces including Thomas Edison’s typewriter and one of the first commercially sold typewriters.

9. THE LUNCHBOX MUSEUM // COLUMBUS, GEORGIA

A utilitarian way to show off one’s nerdom to other students, lunchboxes were the cool way to take lunch to school from the 1950s through the 1980s. Television shows, movies, and just about every other marketable property had its own metal or plastic lunchbox, and Allen Woodall Jr. spent years collecting over 2000 of them (including related items such as thermoses). Now, they are proudly displayed at his The Lunchbox Museum. From Scooby Doo and Rambo to Mork and Mindy and Double Bubble, the museum is chock full of nostalgia that you can access for just $5 and a trip to Georgia. Check out the video above to get the guided tour from the curator.

10. THE NATIONAL MUSTARD MUSEUM // MIDDLETON, WISCONSIN

National Mustard Museum founder Barry Levenson says that the idea to devote an entire museum to the condiment came while walking around a supermarket just after watching his favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, lose the World Series in 1986. Today, the museum has over 5676 mustards in its collection, featuring jars from every state and over 70 countries. It is free to visit, and there is also a store that sells some of the hardest-to-find mustards in the world.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Central Press/Getty Images
Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
11 of the Most Extreme Junk Foods Ever Created
iStock
iStock

It should come as no surprise that National Junk Food Day is traditionally celebrated on July 21—smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, when the streets run thick with ice cream trucks and county fairs boast the kind of fried treats that can only be described as “awesome” (both in the modern sense and the more dated, whoa, we are in awe of that usage). But National Junk Food Day shouldn’t be celebrated with commonplace junk food; oh, no, it deserves something far bigger and better. So save your potato chips and chocolate bars for another day, and get ready to try some truly wild treats.

1. THE KFC DOUBLE DOWN


KFC

Perhaps the most unexpectedly clever way to create a new extreme junk food item is to turn a non-junky foodstuff into something that just oozes calories and decadence. Fried chicken giant KFC knew that—and played it up to major effect—when they introduced the KFC Double Down to America back in 2010. The sandwich foregoes the most traditional aspect of any sandwich (the bread!) and substitutes two fried chicken filets. In between the two pieces of chicken? Bacon, two different kinds of cheese, and the Colonel’s “secret sauce.” There’s no room for a bun here, folks.

2. PIZZA HUT'S HOT DOG STUFFED CRUST PIZZA

We may associate items like fast food pizza and hot dog-stuffed anything with all-American palates, but cheesy juggernaut Pizza Hut saw things a bit differently. In 2012, the chain introduced a pizza with a hot dog-stuffed crust to our neighbors across the pond, treating their UK customers to the kind of taste sensation some people might have had literal nightmares about. Is it a pizza? Is it a hot dog? Somehow, it’s both—and yet something much more.

3. FRIENDLY'S GRILLED CHEESE BURGERMELT


Friendly's

Once again, a wily restaurant chain took a normal food item—in this case, a hamburger—and amped up its junk factor by doing away with something as commonplace as buns, in favor of an entirely different (and, yes, very junky) item. In 2010, Friendly’s rolled out its very own spin on the Double Down, slamming a regular old burger between not one, but two grilled cheese sandwiches. Who needs buns when you can have four pieces of bread, gooey cheese, and unfathomable amounts of butter?

4. GUY FIERI'S CHEESECAKE CHALLENGE

Whiz-bang chef Guy Fieri has long drawn ire for his more wild culinary creations, but what sets his cuisine apart from that of other junk food aficionados is his steadfast dedication to the key elements of any extreme item: size and odd combinations. Fieri’s “Guy's Cheesecake Challenge” is currently on the menu of his Vegas Kitchen and Bar, but it’s easy enough to replicate at home: Just halve a cheesecake, throw it on a plate, and douse liberally with hot fudge, pretzels, and potato chips. (What, no bacon?)

5. DENNY'S FRIED CHEESE MELT


Denny's

In August 2010, Denny’s introduced the Fried Cheese Melt, a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with fried mozzarella sticks. Yes, it was served with both French fries and a side of marinara sauce, because it’s important to eat vegetables with every meal.

6. DUNKIN' DONUTS'S GLAZED DONUT BREAKFAST SANDWICH


Dunkin' Donuts

If you’ve ever hit up your local Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and found yourself stumped when it came time to decide if you wanted a donut or a breakfast sandwich to get your morning motor revving, Dunkin' Donuts came up with a brilliant culinary brainstorm in 2013: the fast food favorite unveiled a breakfast sandwich that used glazed donuts as “bread,” wrapped around bacon and peppered egg.

7. JACK IN THE BOX MUNCHIE MEAL

What Jack’s Munchie Meals lack in creativity, they more than make up for in pure, unadulterated size and content. Each Munchie Meal—there are four total—features a massive sandwich (from the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger to the Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich, and all sorts of wild fried things in between) accompanied with two beef tacos, “Halfsies” (a combo of fries and curly fries), and a 20-ounce fountain drink. These intense snack boxes are still available at most Jack in the Box locations, but you’ll have to wait until after 9 p.m. to procure your very own.

8. PIZZA HUT CHEESY BITES REMIX PIZZA

Apparently, there’s nothing that Pizza Hut loves more than using its crust as a delivery system for other junk food items. The hut that pizza built may have crammed hot dogs and hamburgers on to their pie sides, but there was something special about the Cheesy Bites Remix pizza. It featured fried cheese pockets stuffed with three different varieties of extra junk, from spicy seasoning to cream cheese and sesame to mozzarella and parmesan.

9. DEEP FRIED BUTTER

County and state fairs have long been hotbeds (sizzling, oily hotbeds) of wild, deep-frying invention. Dunking things in batter and then tossing them into a vat of oil is a nifty way to turn almost anything into a delicious crisp pocket of junky decadence, perfect for utensil-free eating—but that doesn’t mean that everything needs to get the deep-fried treatment. While deep-fried Oreos may be a stroke of brilliance, deep fried butter is just plain madness. Here’s a quick test: If you wouldn’t eat something if it weren’t deep-fried, don’t eat it if it is deep-fried. When was the last time you ate an entire stick of butter? See? Point proven.

10. THE BACON BUN BURGER

Not content to have a bacon sandwich between two chicken filets? Is a grilled cheese bun replacement not for you? Then try making your very own hamburger buns out of bacon. Carbs are bad for you, right?

11. FRIED ICE CREAM SANDWICH

The Florida State Fair is the proud home of the first fried ice cream sandwich, a junky treat that bears a name that doesn’t even begin to explain what it holds between its buns. It’s not a fried ice cream sandwich so much as a bacon cheeseburger (technically a sandwich) topped with a ball of fried ice cream. It might be a good meal for multi-taskers—no need to worry about dessert—but it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing good for anything else.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios