Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

NPR
Arts & Life

From Pez To Ticks, 'Atlas Obscura' Discovers 'Wonderfully Specific' Museums

There are museums, and then there are "wonderfully specific museums."

Atlas Obscura writer Molly McBride Jacobson compiled a list of such unique institutions as the American Toby Jug Museum, the German Watering Can Museum and the U.S. National Tick Collection. Her list includes 86 places around the world.

Jacobson tells NPR's Robert Siegel most of these collections are born out of one person's obsession, like the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia.

"That was the work of Gary and Nancy Doss, and they had this computer repair shop," Jacobson says, "and sort of collected Pez — I'm assuming the only real Pez memorabilia is Pez dispensers — but they collected these and displayed them sort of as a hobby in their shop and then that took over, and the entire shop became the Pez museum."

Some of the places on Jacobson's list are more scientific than silly, depending on how you look at it. The Museum of Snoring in Germany explores humans' longstanding, concerted efforts to stop snoring.

Support comes from

"Basically as long as snoring has been around people have been trying to stop it," Jacobson says. "You find all sorts of contraptions, some of them are almost surgical in their appearance. They go up your nose or into your sinuses. I like museums like this because they sort of lend a very specific lens to human history or human medicine."

While most of these places begin as a person's passion, Jacobson says the key to making a collection interesting depends on the variety of the items.

"In some cases, you know, someone has a collection, and it's just a collection," she says. ... "But sometimes the size of the collection and the variety of the items that they have — whether they're hand fans or mustard jars or garden gnomes — the variety in the breadth of the collection can actually tell you something about this phenomenon, and what people were doing when they were making gnomes or Pez dispensers."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.