One of the things I like best about the internet is the opportunity it affords to meet people with similar interests that you might never have the opportunity to cross paths with in real life. Case in Point-the wonderful Jenni Fuchs, one of the owners and writers of Museum Diary. Let me introduce you….
Hello, my name is Jenni, and I’m a museologist currently living in Berlin. I’ve been blogging about museums for five years now, and working in museums for more than twice that time. During those years I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel, both professionally and privately, around various countries and I’ve seen a lot of weird and wonderful collections and museums along the way.
Many national museum institutions once started out as private collections. Art and antiquities collectors are also often known to donate or bequeath their private collections to existing institutions. But there are also many private collections that open their doors to the public whilst keeping their often very intimate character. One such example is the former Squished Penny Museum in Washington D.C., USA. It was run privately by a couple in their living room, with visits by appointment only. Sadly, despite many visits to D.C., I never made it along to the museum before it closed its doors for ever, but there’s a video about it on YouTube (http://youtu.be/iYl0jYnM32U ).
One museum that started out as a private collection, which I did have the bizarre pleasure of visiting, is the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Also known as the ‘Penis Museum’, it regularly tops the list of the world’s wackiest museums. It is the only one of its kind to exhibit phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammal found in a single country. Starting out with just a single bull’s penis in the 1970, the collection has since grown to encompass over 200 specimens from over 90 different species.
Another private collection viewable by appointment only, is the ‘Kleines Katzenmuseum’ (Little Cat Museum) in Berlin, though here the owner doesn’t invite you into his living room. Instead, he has acquired a second apartment to house his collection of over 1,000 cat figures and collectibles. Turning private cat collections into museums seems to be all the rage – a few months after my visit in Berlin, I found myself at the Katten Kabinet in Amsterdam, where rather than collectibles, the focus was artworks depicting cats.
It was the Katzenmuseum that made me think of all the people out there whose weird and wonderful, interesting and intriguing collections never end up being made into a museum. This in turn gave me the idea to invite them to share their collections with others via my blog. And thus, the series ‘Collector’s Spotlight’ (http://museumdiary.com/tag/collectors-spotlight/) was born. Since it started, it has featured collections of brooches, bones, action figures and airline spoons. And, most recently, Alison’s collection of sand from around the world. Many thanks to Alison for sharing her collection with my readers, and for inviting me to share my passion for museums and collections here in return. You’ll find more curious and far flung collections and museums over on my blog, Museum Diary (http://museumdiary.com/), and if any of you have a collection you’d like to share, please do get in touch.
Make sure to pay a visit to Jenni’s web site, especially if you have an upcoming trip. You’re sure to find an unusual spot to visit.