small personal museums

Small Personal Museums – America

This series of articles was inspired by Orhan Pamuk’s curious little institution, the Museum of Innocence in Turkey. For the seventh article in the series, we visit small personal museums in America that the protagonist in his novel (of the same name) visits – including one of our favorites, the wildly unconventional and mysterious Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.

Ava Gardner Museum, Smithfield, North Carolina, USA

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This museum in the actress’s hometown boasts more than 150,000 artifacts, including costumes, movie posters, awards, accessories, jewelry, gloves, shoes and pocketbooks. Of note are a watch she gave to Frank Sinatra, cape and shoes from The Barefoot Contessa, and a gold-plated pistol given to the actress by director John Huston before the filming of The Night of the Iguana, along with bullets bearing the names of her co-stars.

La Ceiba Butterfly and Insect Museum, La Ceiba, Honduras

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This unique museum is home to more than 11,000 insects and butterflies from Honduras and around the world – including the world’s biggest butterfly, the shiniest butterfly, the biggest scorpion, and some live tarantulas. The owner Robert Lehman personally collected them all.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Culver City, Los Angeles, USA

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This mysterious museum, founded by David Hildebrand Wilson and his wife Diana Drake Wilson in 1988, calls itself “an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic”, but it’s more like a cabinet of curiosities. It also has a small Russian-style tea room, a miniature reconstruction of Tsar Nicholas II’s study.

“I remembered again why some museums had the power to make me shudder: They induced the feeling that I had become suspended in one age while the rest of humanity lived in another.” – Orhan Pamuk

The Baltimore Poe House and Museum, Baltimore, USA

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The little house that Edgar Allan Poe lived in around 1833, this museum is home to glassware and china belonging to Poe’s foster father, a telescope reputedly used by Poe, a traveling desk and a Windsor chair that descended through the family of Poe’s uncle, and which may have been in the house during Poe’s residence.

To read the other articles in this series of small personal museums, please click here.

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