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Get an Up-Close Look at a Toilet Seat Art Museum

While there are plenty of museums devoted to everyday items and objects, this has got to be one of the strangest: In San Antonio, Texas, a retired master plumber has created a bizarre roadside attraction known as Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum.

As BoingBoing reports, director Wes Plate made a short film about the museum, which opened in 1992 and showcases more than 1200 toilet seats-turned-pieces of art. The toilet seats serve as the canvas for Smith’s work, which focuses on important historical and sporting events, notable celebrity tributes, general pop culture, and American patriotism. The 95-year-old Texan has been an artist for most of his life, but fell into the family business of plumbing as a full-time career. It was during one fateful trip to a local plumbing supplier that Smith found the inspiration for what would become his artistic obsession.

"I went to a plumbing supply house one time, and they had about 50 toilet seats out on the dock that they were going to throw away,” Smith told Roadside America. “And I said [to the guy] 'What are you going to do with those toilet seats. I would like to have some of these toilet seats to do some art on.' I'd been going down to the River Walk and doing a little art on canvas. He said, 'Well, you can't have 'em, unless you take the hinge off, and throw away half of 'em while you're here.' I threw the rim away and kept the lid."

Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum is located at 239 Abiso Avenue in San Antonio, Texas. It’s open to the public, and if you donate your own toilet seat, Smith will engrave your name on it as part of his artwork. (Just make sure the toilet seat is clean before you hand it over!)

You can watch Plate’s film below.

[h/t BoingBoing]

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Museum Discovers Classic Renaissance Painting Hidden in Its Own Collection
Andrea Mantegna circa 1475
Andrea Mantegna circa 1475
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A long-lost painting by a master artist of the Renaissance was recently rediscovered in the storeroom of an Italian museum near Milan, according to The Art Newspaper and The Wall Street Journal.

The painting in question, Andrea Mantegna’s 15th century The Resurrection of Christ, was found by a curator at an art museum in the city of Bergamo. The Accademia Carrara has been in possession of the Mantegna painting since the 19th century, but long ago discounted it as a copy. While working on a catalogue for the museum in March, Accademia Carrara curator Giovanni Valagussa took note of the tempera-on-panel work and began to investigate its origins.

Count Guglielmo Lochis purchased the painting in 1846, cataloguing it as an original Mantegna; it was bequeathed to the museum as part of his collection after his death in 1859. But decades later, other experts cast doubt on the originality of the work, first re-attributing it to the artist’s son, and later suggesting that it was a copy that was not even made in his workshop. The museum removed it from display sometime before 1912, and it has been in storage for more than a century.

A painting depicting Jesus rising from the dead while soldiers look on
The Resurrection of Christ
Andrea Mantegna, Accademia Carrara

Upon inspecting the painting, Valagussa suspected it was more than just a copy. The painting features a small cross at the bottom of the image that looked disconnected from the rest, and the structure of the back of the painting made it seem like it might be part of a larger work. Valagussa tracked down another Mantegna painting, Descent Into Limbo, that seemed to fit underneath—the paintings are likely two halves of one image that was cut apart.

The Accademia Carrara also conducted an infrared survey of The Resurrection of Christ, discovering that the artist drew nude figures first, then painted over them with images of clothed soldiers, a technique that Mantegna was known for.

A world expert on Mantegna, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Keith Christiansen, did his own analysis and believes the painting in Bergamo to be an authentic, high-quality Mantegna. That means that the Accademia Carrara’s forgotten wood panel, previously insured for around $35,000, is probably worth between $25 million and $30 million.

The museum hopes to one day bring the two parts of the painting, The Resurrection of Christ and the privately owned Descent Into Limbo, together in an exhibition in the future.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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USPS Is Issuing Its First Scratch-and-Sniff Stamps This Summer
USPS
USPS

Summertime smells like sunscreen, barbecues, and—starting June 20, 2018—postage stamps. That's when the United States Postal Service debuts its first line of scratch-and-sniff stamps in Austin, Texas with perfumes meant to evoke "the sweet scent of summer."

The 10 stamps in the collection feature playful watercolor illustrations of popsicles by artist Margaret Berg. If the designs alone don't immediately transport you back to hot summer days spent chasing ice cream trucks, a few scratches and a whiff of the stamp should do the trick. If you're patient, you can also refrain from scratching and use them to mail a bit of summer nostalgia to your loved ones.

Since it was invented in the 1960s, scratch-and-sniff technology has been incorporated into photographs, posters, picture books, and countless kids' stickers.

The first-class mail "forever" stamps will be available in booklets of 20 for $10. You can preorder yours online before they're unveiled at the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony at Austin's Thinkery children's museum next month.

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