What's All This Then?
What's All This Then?
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Get lost in our MoOM, The Museum of Online Museums.
Like most cultural institutions, The MoOM needs the support of the community to survive. Well, not really, since we don't have a building or a staff or even those cheap little round colored badges that you hook on your collar when you attend, but we do hope you'll support The Museum of Online Museums all the same.
Becoming a "Sustaining Fellow" at a brick and mortar museum can cost well over a thousand dollars and often requires that you attend stuffy formal soirees and make small talk with muckety-mucks.
Supporting the MoOM requires a simple one-time non-tax-free contribution of $75. In exchange for your generosity, you'll receive one sweet, tall coffee mug, a permanent listing and link as a lifetime member of the Board of Directors and the right, but not the obligation, to post links to collections you discover online that you deem appropriate to the Mission of the MoOM. Thank you in advance for your consideration
Recently acquired but not-yet-collected exhibits, with descriptions, can be found in the MoOM Annex, a part of the general Coudal Partners archives.
Introducing a film from Coudal Partners and The Board of Directors of the Museum of Online Museums. The Curators is a three-part documentary, hosted by Collections Director Kevin Guilfoile, that focuses on the collectors and the collected.
From Will Schofield's excellent 50 Watts comes a series of warnings and admonitions about Dutch workplace safety. Watch those fingers. Protect your eyes. Don't spit on the nuns. Plus there's lots more to explore at the source, Memory of the Netherlands.
At The MoOM HQ we're suckers for pretty much any collection of vintage print advertising, especially ones that can can be properly described as "groovy" or "trippy." Voices of East Anglia has carefully selected a bright, colorful set of Japanese Print Ads from the 60s and 70s that pretty much define the terms.
Egg Nog is fascinating in and of itself; with its slim window of availability and a texture like melted ice cream. But who knew that if you looked past the drink, you'd find its regional packaging equally as compelling? Madeleine Eiche, that's who, as she collected and photographed cartons for the aptly-named collection, Egg Nog.
Like film projectors, part of the attraction of reel-to-reel tape decks as objects is not just that they have a lot of moving parts, it's that you actually get to watch those parts moving. A digital progress bar doesn't hold a candle to the long, slow, hypnotic unwinding of a party tape from the left reel to the right. These vintage ads and manuals mostly appeal to the idea of being a "pro" in your home. That's a charming idea in the age of the amateur.
Real estate agents might be great at understanding the housing market, where the next great neighborhood is, or how to successfully navigate a closing. However, as Real Estate Agent Headshots proves, what they aren't always so great at is hiring qualified photographers or being photographed in general.
Back before every corner was filled with a chain-filled strip mall, Los Angeles' car culture gave birth to a million diners, rib joints, and places to get an ice cream, most all of them with a theme and a giant sign out front. Old L.A. Restaurants offers up a large collection, with not just photos, but whole write-ups about these eateries of a bygone era.
Hundreds of commercial airlines have attempted to solve thousands of visual communication problems over the years. The Timetablist collects all manner of maps, grids, schedules and other printed data and it's fascinating to see the many different approaches to route maps, for example, all in one place.
I don't know much about the series of novels about Simon Templar, aka "The Saint," but I do know a little about The MoOM, and one thing I know is that nothing makes for a more satisfying exhibit than a few pages jammed full of iterations on a single idea. Jean-Marc Lofficier's Saint Cover Gallery is exactly that. An expressive stick-figure placed in hundreds of situations by a group of inventive artists makes for a fun-to-browse collection that practically defines the idea of "variations on a theme."
Far be it for The MoOM to take advantage of a pop culture phenomena when selecting exhibits but, well, maybe this one time. Hobbitish collects a number of foreign illustrated editions of the Tolkien classic. Although the scans are in many cases very small it's a lot of fun to see visual interpretations outside of Peter Jackson's, like this, from a Portuguese edition.
The longtime enemy of both the snoop and the thief, envelope security patterns have stoically protected our checks, credit card statements and paternity test results, thwarting all manner of criminal and looky-loo. Finally, these brave eye-blockers have their day, out from behind the flap at The Envelope Security Patterns Gallery.
It's second nature to call up IMDb when you can't remember that actor's name, or what song played in the credits, but where do you go when you're watching You Only Live Twice and thinking "Aki's Toyota looks like a 2000GT but they never made a convertible, did they?" The Internet Movie Car Database contains a ridiculously extensive and detailed list of cars and motorcycles used in films, most with screenshots from the film.
You'd think that by now that this last respite for analog gauges would have been over-run by flashing digital bars and 3D pie chart shapes. But thankfully, you'd be wrong. The Gallery of Tachs, Speedos, and Gauge Clusters from CarType is splendid and like most of our favorite MoOM entries, it includes dozens of variations on a theme. Vroom.
Today it seems almost sacrilege to write a personal note in the front of a book. If you aren't the author, what gives you the right to deface a gift? Yet when we find an inscription in an old book someone gave us, or accidentally happen upon one in some used bookstore, there come those warm "those were the gold old days" feelings. To help ease that conundrum, The Book Inscriptions Project collects and scans inscriptions, thus keeping your own books safe and your heart appropriately warmed.
A mainstay on The MoOM Museum Campus, The Computer History Museum is a great resource and a joy to roam around in online. In particular, the Museums's collection of marketing brochures is a visual treat, full of surprises, typography and design.
I'm trying to quit my six-cans-of-Coke-a-day habit, just this morning I had a relapse thwarted when the dang machine ate my change. Time to visit USASODA, a collection of United States soft drink items. It won't get my 85 cents back, but at least I can see how much more attractive soda cans used to be.
A major problem for cops everywhere is the ubiquity of suspicious looking vans. Every time a crime is committed, witnesses look around and fixate on the vehicle that looks most like it has been pimped and driven by a twitchy pederast or Satan worshipper. The owners of these vehicles are among America's Most Hauled In For Questioning. The Definitive List of Suspicious Vans.
Multiple visual interpretations of a single idea are always interesting and when it's Nabokov's Lolita we're talking about, well that just adds a little danger to the exercise. Covering Lolita. Also check Peter Mendelsund smart illustrated post on the the subject and Nabokov's own comments on various editions of his novel.
With the advent of e-readers it's generally agreed we no longer need books. Now that we have the Virtual Vatican, you know what else we don't need? The Sistene Chapel! Explore Michelangelo's masterpiece close up on your iPad and let's finally give the Holy See the Hobby Lobby it deserves.
Jozsef Tari lives in Hungary and collects miniature books. Among the 4,000 he now owns is the smallest book ever made (2.9 x 3.2 millimeters) and 15 kinds of tiny newspapers (also including the world's smallest). That's all well and good, but is it worth it to posit that Mr. Tari is really a terrifying giant, all those books are normal size, and this is simply a clever ruse perpetrated by the Hungarian government while they ready their plans to unleash him upon the world? For the good of humanity, we think it is.
It's summer and that means sleep away camp. If you had the good fortune to have been sent to Camp Mah-Kee-Nac in Lenox, MA, you'll appreciate that the mysterious "barry2489" has collected, scanned and uploaded every edition of the camp's newsletter, The Totem, starting with the 1940 editions. If you went to another camp, then sorry, you'll either have to do the leg work yourself or just keep relying upon those warm, amber-hued memories.
Public versus private. The binary nature of the ubiquitous hotel door hanger represents the yin and yang of international travel. Michael Lebowitz' grandfather was in the foreign service and collected hangers from various locations. As a group they show there are many ways to tell both sides of a story.
In Western imagery, is there a shorter shorthand for evil than a high-sided, brightly colored, short-visored, adorned and braided, military officer's parade hat? I suppose somebody over there thought these looked cool, but the Colonel Hogans and the GI Joes of the last century were laughing behind their wool-covered backs. We all wore 'em the same over here, Jeep-style and green, so the Arkadys and the Borises wouldn't know whom to shoot at first.
Gaping at mug shots has been an internet pastime for decades, but there's something special about Small Town Noir's Gallery of New Castle Rogues. Perhaps it's the commentary, which is meticulously culled from various contemporary source materials and stitched together into haunting true-life narratives that James M. Cain would have been proud to invent.
MAD magazine's humor seemed a bit juvenile even when I was a kid, but I bought it religiously anyway. A glance at Doug Gilford's MAD Cover Site explains it: the illustration (with talent like Sergio Aragones and Mort Drucker) and layout was always top-notch, and the parodies were always executed perfectly, even if the writing wasn't always so impressive.
Years ago, if you needed a specific type of obscure transistor, you went to your local Radio Shack and talked to a salesperson who knew what you were talking about, what you needed, and wasn't there simply to try to sell you a cell phone. On the off chance the store didn't carry it, you went to the wonderfully thick Radio Shack catalog, nearly all of which are collected at the Archive of Radio Shack Catalogs. You might not have known what everything listed on those pages did, but that rarely dissuaded. More than a catalog, it was a catalyst to the future of modern technology. Also, you could subscribe to their Battery Club.
In those glory days of commercial aviation, long before the TSA got all touchy feely, a handsome pilot would invite a few kids up to "help fly the plane." For their efforts, and assuming none of them hit the button marked "Do Not Push This Button Under Any Circumstances," they would receive their own pair of wings. We can look fondly back at those more innocent times with Fly the Branded Skies' large collection of Junior Wings and pine for friendlier skies.
If you grew up in a Ham Radio family, CB users were looked upon as philistines, having little respect for the value of the spectrum. But seeing The Art of CB Radio QSL Cards opens a door to a huge community who latched on to the Citizen Band in a big way and wanted to explore the world via a small radio and a boatload of stamps. Truth be told, Hams also likely never had this sort of illustrating talent.
The greatest MoOM collections consist of items no one would ever think to save or collect, but the Vintage Price Stickers Flickr Pool is an interesting twist, if you're already collecting old books or records or toys, chances are you're inadvertently already collecting price tags. In this alternate universe, that Gold Circle price tag may be worth more than the NIB Han Solo action figure it's attached to.
The BBC became the world's first high-definition television broadcaster in 1936. Twenty years later Abram Games took a stab at branding the station and came up with a steampunk creation that you definitely would not want to stick your hand in. Since then the BBC logo has gone through several redesigns, adding numbers, changing colors, eventually ending up with the three simple boxes we see today.
Crime-fighting speaks a universal language, and no lair full of toadies can resist the Dynamic Duos awesome head-cracking power, especially when it's punctuated by inventive and colorful exclamations that always end in exclamation marks. Bang! Las Onomatopeyas Galeria de Batman. The collection is helpfully cross-indexed by episode too.
The long forgotten are newly remembered in the most reverent way I can imagine as corroded tins holding the unclaimed, cremated remains of patients at a state run mental hospital are transformed into unlikely art. It's the chilling Library of Dust.
There are two camps that likely do not approve of the Gallery of Monster Hornets Nests, chiefly the hornets who have suddenly found themselves homeless and second, anyone who comes over on a first date and is shown "the collection room." For the rest of us, observing from a safe distance, seeing these massive nests, most always accompanied by their half-smiling, wolf shirt-wearing collector, is a bizarre treat.
Something told me I had to include this gallery the MoOM. A Visual History of Whispering Imps is Rhett Bryson's awesome collection of images from vintage show posters, of the "the sagacious magician looking knowingly at the viewer with small imps whispering the enduring secrets of magic in his ear." Unlike the cartoon cliche of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, these prestidigitators have no good influence to offset the suggestions of the evil. Beware the results.
Along the same lines as the MoOM classic Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects, but with a much more specific focus, The Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group presents Taxonomic Data of the Breadties of the World. HORG examines Occlupanids of various holotypes, including Haplognaths, Acutignaths, and the elusive Corrugatids, each with a variety of examples and background.
Monsters and robots are called a lot of things. Enemy to the human race. Spawn of unspeakable evil. But at the end of the day, are they really so different from you or I? The In My Arms collection helps us understand that all monsters and robots have really ever wanted to do is just find a woman who faints easily, kidnap her, and gently carry her back to the mothership or underground lair. Sure their intentions might not always be entirely honest or pure, but doesn't our rush to judge and demonize make us the real monsters?
Just because the market is underground doesn't mean branding isn't essential. The names are familiar--Tiger Woods, Gucci, 7Up, Starbucks, Twilight--but the product is 100% illegal. And the tales in broken English about trips to acquire the stuff are so sad (and sometimes funny-sad) that this anonymous Russian/Brooklynite blogger should really have a book deal. Except big publishing won't touch him and he has trouble getting out of bed. DequinceyJynxie, the Drug Branding Archive, will have to suffice.
With politics, as with everything, there are two sides to every coin. But sometimes those sides blur a bit when it comes to illustrating our 44th President. With Bad Paintings of Barack Obama, we have poor renditions by supportive fans. From those opposed we get the Anti-Obama Merchandise collection, where the his face is often more cleanly depicted but he's surrounded by unfortunate design, bizarre historical reaches, and painfully forced puns. Somewhere a bald eagle is weeping and Thomas Kinkade is there painting the scene.
Before the insidious music-industry-backed "NOW" collections took over, K-Tel was the global king of cross-genre/cross-label TV-marketed hits compilations. K-Tel Queen collects these gems on flickr, bringing back childhood memories like Power Play, inexplicably featuring Blondie, The Spinners, and Little River Band on one slab of vinyl. (The Swedish version is surprisingly hip by K-Tel standards: Madness! OMD! XTC! If only I'd had that one in fifth grade!)
One of the worst ideas man ever had was to take all of the most dangerous people and put them together in a cage. Unfortunately, no one's come up with a more inspired one. Or any other idea at all, really. As the brilliant exhibit The Art of the Shiv demonstrates, however, creativity is 99% boredom and 1% fear for one's life.
When you're on a long drive, ever wonder what's in all those semi-trucks you're passing? Fortunately, if you happen to catch one at the right time, it will likely fall over and spill out its entire contents. Be it soybeans, oranges, dead alligators or tomahawk missiles, Truck Spills is there to catalog what comes out of those massive trucks once they give up and just need to lie down for a while in the middle of the road.
By and large we tend to think of aliens visiting the earth as being from some highly advanced civilization, light years ahead of us in technology and parsecs away from us in distance. OK fine. But I like mine over the tree line beyond the backyard BBQ and I don't especially care for them visiting from the future, it's much cooler when they show up in the past.
When the Village People released their hit single "In the Navy" in 1979, they helped spread the word that, were you to join this branch of the Armed Forces, you'd be able to "learn science technology" and "study oceanography," among other alluring vocations. But with all those positives, why didn't they think to also mention how good the food is? One look at the Navy Department Library's collection of Holiday Menus from Ship to Shore, will have you eagerly heading to the recruiting office, just as those brave singing patriots would have wanted.
"Please call Stella..." What you say doesn't always tell who you are but how you say it nearly always give away where you're from. Browse the huge collection of audio samples in the Speech Accent Archive from George Mason University for a trip through global accents and pronunciations. For quick fun, navigate with the map.
From Punnett Squares to the Pioneer "Golden Record", science makes for some great tattoos. Discover Magazine has collected 165 such masterpieces of skin, ink, and brains. A forearm inked with the periodic table or complex equations (above) would sure come in handy during final exams. We'll never know if the ubiquitous "jumping dolphin" is a sign of too many sloe-gin fizzes or extreme Douglas Adams fandom.
When Laurence Hutton was alive more than a hundred years ago, he must have been strangely received by his contemporaries when he'd ask them "Would you like to come over to see my masks of both the living and the dead?" Fortunately, it isn't nearly as creepy today, because you can just go visit Princeton University's Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks, which features everyone from Aaron Burr to Walt Whitman, all without Hutton standing over your shoulder, silently staring.
The road to modern medicine is paved with half-cocked, screwball pieces of machinery. Some were created with the best intentions, like the Shoe-Fitting X-Ray Device, while others were clearly easy money scams or the work of minds in need of a little medication themselves, like the McGregor Rejuvenator, which sounds like its a con before you even find out what it does. To our benefit, the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices refuses to takes side and catalogs them all.
"'The enemy was so close,' explained an inhabitant, 'You could hear the soldiers snoring in the evening.' The opposing Armies are now separated by a swamp and a forest. Ironically, the Northern soldiers are depending upon these Southern landmarks for protection.' Hey Bobby! I'll give you a Shot To Death and a Wall of Corpses for your Train of Doom." The Civil War Trading Cards Gallery, collect all 87.
A curatorial standard we use at The MoOM goes like this: One is a thing. Two is a couple. Three is a set. Four is a collection. A huge mess of totally groovy related items that vary slightly and occasionally quite a lot and by their assembly in one place demonstrate not only the collector's obsession with an arcane, even trivial matter but also the viewer's fascination with the collecting itself is, well, totally righteous. The Gallery of German Television Test Patterns.
My six-year-old neighbor believes the tooth fairy lives in a castle made out of children's molars. Other disturbing lies told by grown-ups can be found at Not a Cough In a Carload: The Museum of Tobacco Industry Propaganda.
My radio, believe me,
I like it loud
I'm the man with a box
that can rock the crowd
Walkin' down the street,
to the hardcore beat
While my JVC
vibrates the concrete.
I'm sorry if you can't
But I need a radio
inside my hand
Don't mean to offend
But I kick my volume
way past 10
You might think that when it's time to blow bubbles that your options are limited to one of those store-bought canisters that never quite work right. But just one look at the Bubble Blowers Museum will prove how very wrong you are. There are vintage wands, wind up blowers, promotional kits, and so much more. Though before you get too excited and begin fantasizing about your next bubbly adventure, please do make note of the site's warning: "I COLLECT bubble blowers. I do not sell them."
It's easy to get a cheap laugh from the Urinal Gallery or World Toilet Info, but once you grow up and stop your immature giggling, you'll find it difficult to stop browsing, with great fascination, through the thousands of facilities captured and cataloged from around the world. But if you still feel the need for a chuckle, just think of how many of these user submitted photographs were taken right as someone came through the door. How's that for an awkward couple of seconds? "Oh, sorry, I had to, um, take a photo of this for the internet, see?"
Toothpaste World lives up to its name: hundreds of tubes and tins of dentifrice from around the world, dating back to the 1800s, along with historical information, links to other toothpaste collections, and a guide to choosing toothpaste. Dr. Val Kolpakov displays the exhibit at his dental practice in Michigan.
If it was 1983 right now and you were looking to break into stand-up comedy, you'd likely be looking to craft an arsenal of jokes about airline food and how bad it is. How fortunate you would have been had you run across the Comprehensive Gallery of Airline Meals, an incredibly detailed collection of all things sky dining. Sadly it is no longer 1983 and your stand-up material seems a tad dated. Especially because a meal on a plane, bad or otherwise, is pretty rare these days.
Whether it's a deadly dagger hidden in a crucifix, a dummy gat fashioned from a grease gun, or a rope ladder disguised as grotesquely oversized chess pieces, prisoners have been using ingenuity to make fools of their German captors since Kinch put a radio in the coffee pot. We never saw the episode in which Newkirk made a bong made from a tube of horseradish, but seeing is believing at the Gallery of Improvised Teutonic Prison Escape Tools.
From personal experience we know that an unnatural obsession with the art of lusty vintage paperbacks is an individual affliction. It's the flimsiest of excuses to say that this interest is not prurient, but rather an exercise in design research. So there is some satisfaction in this Gallery of Pulp Paperback Covers which is curated by hundreds of other "illustration scholars." The collection is wildly uneven but that is more than made up for by it's massive size.
We hid in the bushes after placing a couple shiny coppers on the hard cold blue steel of the railroad tracks as the huge train bore down on our position. After the whoosh and clatter subsided we scrambled out to find our pennies, now paper thin and barely identifiable as currency. Man, that was fun for a nine-year-old boy. Turns out however, according to the Squished Penny Museum, that what we were doing was "squashing coins" which doesn't really count. Oh well, never mind.
Whether or not you're a science fiction fan, you've got to love more than 650 Philip K. Dick book covers, collected by fans for his official site. As design trends change, and the stories pass through time and language barriers, it's astounding to see the variety of interpretations. In some cases, it's particularly interesting to see how the book design influenced the films derived from Dick's stories (most notably, "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report") and how the films influenced the design of later printings of the books.
Our ill-informed western stereotypes once led us to believe that drinking in the USSR usually involved a bottle of vodka and was consumed while wearing a fur hat as sad music lingered somewhere off in the distance. But all of us (except for Sarah Palin who regularly witnessed the truth from her kitchen window) couldn't have been more wrong, as the Collection of Soviet Wine Labels fills us in on the many varieties of vino communism had to offer. Stomped by the workers, casked by the workers, consumed by the workers. Lenin would certainly toast to that.
Fifteen years ago, when it was finally time for me to buy a car on my own, the first place I went was a Pontiac dealer. The reason, I knew fully well, was that bird on the hood of Burt Reynolds' Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit, a movie I was obsessed with nearly as much as Star Wars back in 1977. Reason eventually won out and I bought a Honda Civic, but damned if I didn't drive that baby home, park it in the yard and drink a sixer of Coors while sitting on the pathetically undecorated hood.
The Virtual Museum of Vintage VCRs' name is a bit redundant by this point, as most all VCRs, even the ones manufactured today, would likely be considered "vintage." But what a great place to revisit those machines you spent so many hours with, rewinding and fast-forwarding, forcing broken tapes out of, and always adjusting for better tracking. What's more, it's also a good reference to prove to your kids how incredibly old you are.
One of my prized possessions is a mimeographed handbill passed to me 15 years ago at the now-defunct Avalon on Belmont in Chicago for a southern rock glam band called 100 Proof. It's eight stapled pages of smudged photos captioned with hilarious profanity, cartoonish misogyny, and weird top ten lists ("No 5: Finding Weed You Forgot About"). On the last page is a really sincere note of appreciation ("We'd like to thank our fans for purchasing 1500 tapes!"). I don't know what happened to 100 Proof or its lead guitarist, but wherever "Tom Cat" is, I hope he's still "f***ing with the board at New River Studios" and finding bags of the bombdiggity in the toes of his Chuck Taylors.
Do Germans like hosiery? We're assuming that you're asking rhetorically, because of course Germans like hosiery. Everyone knows it. But if you somehow weren't aware, then maybe it's high time you visited the German Hosiery Museum to get yourself up to speed on thousands of years of the nation's proud hosiery history. From the "foot rags" of the Bronze Age to interactive 3D models of post-war tights, it's the entirety of the German hosiery phenomenon in all its clingy glory.
Anyone can collect things, but the true mettle of a collector is exposed as the subject becomes more specific. For instance, there are plenty of great license plate sites on the web, but how many are as narrowly focused, yet so expansive, as Mike Sells' 1976 License Plate Page? '76 was an interesting year for plates, with its many bicentennial designs, but you can bet there are other plate collectors out there obsessing over other, less distinctive years.
The stereotype is that Canadians are a well-mannered people, preferring civil conduct and conversation to all the yelling and "hey, look at us!" chest-beating that goes on with their neighbors to the south. But while they might have us all fooled with this quiet act, a quick browse through Big Things: The Monuments of Canada explains that this is a country that prefers to let its massive army of gigantic, ominous statues do the talking. And that's far more intimidating than anything we've got.
The late Mitch Hedberg said, "Mr. Pibb is a poor imitation of Dr. Pepper. Dude didn't even get his degree!" Luckily, med schools over the years have been churning out pretenders to the Pepper throne, including Drs. Becker, Joe, Thirst, Right, Topper, Furr, Chek, and Kist, to name just a few. "Hello and welcome to the most important page on the internet." If that ain't enough, here's another list of would-be Peppers.
When the MoOM finally gets the National Public Radio slot it so richly deserves, we're going to spend a lot of time describing things, since most of our exhibits are visual. And then, of course, there are beautiful, touching, elegiac things like this Third Generation Nathan P5 recorded on the Norfolk Southern's Triple Crown Service that will make the show even more popular than A Prairie Home Companion. Speakers way, way up for The Locomotive Horn Sound File Collection.
I bought my jazz buff dad that Blue Note album cover book back when it came out, and he seemed confused about why I'd buy him a book full of life-size reproductions of the covers of 400 albums he already owned. Fair enough. So the next Christmas I stole it back and I've been ripping off Reid Miles' ideas ever since. Now, thanks to Vintage Vanguard's Blue Note Gallery I no longer need to carry the book around with me, and I can see the backs of all those records in their black-and-white Bodonitastic glory.
It's hard to imagine today's sophisticated kids saving up to buy trading cards portraying their favorite scenes from According to Jim. Funny thing is, I had dozens of these in the seventies--Charlie's Angels, Battlestar Gallactica, Welcome Back Kotter. The sad thing is I still have them.
From the educational-sounding Edith Cavell, Heroic Nurse to the risque-sounding Double Duty Nurse, Tiny Pineapple's Nurse Book Collection is proof that readers can't refuse a good book about a nurse. Or perhaps it just means nurses have a lot of downtime and like to read stories about more interesting nurses.
Nostalgia is a tricky thing. It's easy to be sucked into a reverie about how things were "so much better when they were simpler." I generally don't buy that line of thought but when The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies made its way into the MoOM I looked at it fondly, but maybe for a different reason. Things weren't simpler when used these tools but maybe I was. Maybe I had a whole lot fewer preconceptions and maybe when I made something new, to me at least, it really was new. Hand me my loupe willya?
My particular brand in high school was the chromium dioxide TDK SA 90. I would buy them in boxes of ten, each cassette wrapped in black cellophane, a future mix tape waiting to happen. I found a bunch of those old mixes when I moved recently and looking over them I realized that they all contained pretty much the same thirty songs in a different order. Also my taste in music was pretty awful. Maybe I should have spent more money on new records and less money on blank tape. The Gallery of Audio Cassette J-Cards.
A MoOM classic that doesn't mess around with lots of subcategories and cutesy commentary, The Condiment Packet Gallery lays it all on the line right from the start. It's a simple, beautiful, clickable array of portion control packets, curated by Chris Harne and it's the kind of thing we point to when someone asks us, "What is the MoOM all about?"
Dutch illustrator Gertie Jaquet's assortment of orange wrappers started with her father-in-laws collection from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Despite the wide variety of designs, there's a strange consistency to the print quality, illustration style, and color palette (the notable lack of the color orange, for example), which makes one wonder if many of these examples were produced by a single design/printhouse uniquely equipped to serve the produce industry. Don't miss Gertie's other collections of ephemera.
I used to work in a studio where one of the suits had an office full of old Remington manual typewriters and he'd occasionally write memos on one of them. Invariably he'd make some reference to craftsmanship and how great things were in the old days. I thought he was daft and completely out of touch. Now, although I can't explain why, I really want a red IBM Selectric II. Damn.
It's so easy for you to make fun, isn't it? But do you laugh at seat belts? At smoke detectors? At the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Of course you don't. Yet each of those, in their way, serve the same purpose as those items listed and classified in the Webseum of Pocket Protectors: they keep people safe from harm. Why these indispensable slivers of plastic have all but vanquished the detriments of running ink and misplaced protractors. So who's laughing now?
Vans have taken a hit in recent years by being portrayed as the vehicles of choice for both terrorists and FBI sting operations alike. But in the 1970s, there were few things cooler in America than the van. And nowhere is that more clear than in The Gallery of Van Advertisements. Because nothing says, "I'm a man you want to get to know," than a 1973 Dodge Van, tricked out with Super Sports Radial Stones, plush captain's chairs from JCPenney and a psychedelic paint job of an electrified wolf riding a comet, howling at the moon. Good times.
Before the age of the 'product placement' and the 'viral video' there were straightforward, honest to God, celebrity endorsements. These print ads seem so innocent now, "I lived in Milwaukee, I ought to know..." This fine collection is part of a larger database of various and sundry ad images, curated by Chris Mullen.
Is Nicaragua really so hungry for heroes that they put G.K. Chesterton on a stamp? And nothing against Alfred de Musset but if he had been born in Maryland it's really hard to imagine the USPS putting his mug on legal tender. Same goes for Edward Lear. Norman Lear, on the other hand, I can see.
There are thousands of minuscule objects surrounding us at any given moment, most going relatively unnoticed in our day to day lives. Some are man-made, others are natural and a few even blur the line between the two. In an attempt to catalog these Very Small Objects a new system has been created using fragments of the English language rather than that archaic Latin everyone seems to cling to.
Created as promotional material aimed at a happy motoring public, this Collection of European Petrol and Oil Company Road Maps is nirvana for those of us who like nothing better than rooting around in big stack of vintage printed material, searching for gems. There's practical information here and most of it reminds us that there was as a time when touring was a hobby, people drove for pleasure and the crafts of cartography, iconography and typography had not yet been folded under the antiseptic term "information design."
Once the creepiness factor wears off (and it does, surprisingly quickly), the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks at Princeton University, is a fascinating look at some of the most famous people in human history. Strip away all the veneer of what you've seen in those lavish paintings and ornately staged photographs used to codify their importance, and what you have left is just a regular, everyday person who happened to be extraordinary on the side.
Sometimes it's unclear if a MoOM collection is actually located in one physical place (whether it's a museum, a basement, or a shoebox), or if it's just a photographic collection of many items seen over the years, or found on the web. Until 2004, Sarah Lowrey actually owned over 1,000 vintage pocket transistor radios, and I like to picture them scattered around her house, all turned on and tuned to the same station. Side note: Sarah's husband Dave collects ham radio license plates.
Throughout human history, if there was one pick for "the greatest job ever," our selection would be the head of the toy section for the department store's Christmas catalog. Building dioramas every day, creating action packed scenes, and using more "Zaps!" and "Pows!" than is usually allowed by law. And once you're done, you couldn't hope to find a more adoring, appreciative audience for your work. There's no better place to relive that golden age, and wish you could have been a part, than at the Department Store Christmas Catalog Archive.
Everyone has a favorite media format. Most people just haven't thought it through yet. The Lost Formats Preservation Society has done an admirable job collecting many of these formats in silhouette and will consider adding other nominations. All hail the 2" video cart, used to play back spots and other interstitial programming at TV stations before things got boring and went all digital.
It must have been so easy to be a counterfeiter in the colonies. All you had to do was tear off a piece of paper and write "The pofsefsor of this note shall be intitled to 48 fhillings" and then scribble a crude picture of a pine tree or a water pump on the other side. And in exchange for this people would just hand over ale and blankets and long bore mufkets. They had a cushy life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, let me tell you.
Much of the MoOM revolves around the idea that "things were so much cooler back then." There's probably a long discussion to be had about innocence and fashion, but we're not going to have that here. Suffice it to say that in regards to girls and cars, "things were so much cooler back then."
One day, when outlawed historians of our society in decline meet in candlelit secret to determine what past event best represents civilization's high-water mark, they will agree it was decent food served on airplanes along with the proper utensils to eat it. We have tumbled far past that point already but it's not too soon to be nostalgic for the moment just after which everything went horribly, horribly wrong.
Less a "museum" than a "store," the Vintage Wallpaper Gallery is a German shop specializing in vintage (and reproduction) wallpapers. It's a great resource for ninth-graders making a Great Expectations diorama in a shoebox, or for anyone who just digs vintage patterns.
Sordid, racist, sexist, hokey, vile Men's Magazine Covers of the '50s and '60s. If that's not enough to get you to click, one of them teases a story called, "The Golden Nudes of the Mad Nazi Sculptor." Reprehensible really. Too bad the scans aren't bigger. Oh, and the interior illustrations are really tasteless too.
They are the unsung heroes of the American motorway, the saviors of those trapped in the gridlocked mess of noxious fumes and rising tempers. These self-sacrificing saints have spent upwards of $25 dollars per year to personalize their license plates, allowing us to try desperately to figure them out, thoroughly enjoying what would otherwise be tedious moments. We've laughed with them, cried with them, and so it only makes sense that they receive their due in the form of The Biggest License Plate Gallery Anywhere.
Here's how we believe it happens: You've made up your mind and you've decided to start a hobby. But everyone collects stamps or coins or those weird little spoons. So what's for you? Maybe after a bite of this apple, you'll think of something. Wait a minute! What's this sticker on the apple? There are probably a million stickers like this out there! And that's how a lifelong obsession begins and a site like The World of Fruit Labels is born.
These obsolete Japanese electronic products are nor particularly odd or even very old but most of them represent a confident design aesthetic with lots and lots of little buttons and switches. And that's good enough for us.
Found in an alleyway by Mike Lee and then lovingly preserved for posterity by Jen Sharpe, The Kriegsmann Files contain an amazing collection of 178 eight by ten promotional photographs of a variety of bands, magicians, strippers and other performers. Every picture truly tells a story, and if you're at all like us you'll spend hours imagining the tales that accompany these images.
Calendar cards are a great idea. You want to know the date, you pull it out of your wallet, take a look, and there you have it, there's the date. But it's all the better if you can take a look, then flip it over and be brainwashed by government propaganda. In the Calendar Card section of Vintage Chinese Propaganda Posters, you'll find such cute and cuddly gems as "I Love Work!" and "I Love To Be Clean!" They're the perfect gifts for the worker who stinks and isn't meeting their quota.
Who among us hasn't thought, at one time or another, "Sure I'd love to learn about France in the 1850's, but I really wish there was some way to incorporate frogs into my history lesson." Well wish no longer. At Le Musee des Grenouilles, you'll find just what you've been searching for as you take in all one hundred and eight dead frogs acting out "satirical scenes of everyday life."
I wonder if Russians are as nostalgic about their radios as we Americans are. Did they have shows that gathered them around their AM hearths like "Fibber Trotsky and Misha," and "Little Comrade Anna," and "Ukranian Top 40"? Or do they remember the attractive vintage receivers in the Museum of Old Soviet Radios as little more than countertop propaganda makers? Remind me to ask someone about that.
After a long day of buying off politicians, crushing enemies, and top secret meetings in the dank Skulls and Bones cave, most captains of industry enjoy coming home and leafing through their stock certificates, like those collected at The Bureau of Corporate Allegory. One look at the gigantic person towering over a city, holding a globe, looking totally disinterested, is a sure fire pick me up. If you're not sure why, that probably explains why you aren't a captain of industry.
The Shakespeare Kazoo Bug. The Rhodes Cork Revolution, The Case Rotary Marvelů My grandfather passed along many great lures to my father, and my father passed them along to me, and I lost all of them in the reeds of Lake Isabella. Luckily, they live on at oldfishinglure.com.
Designboom's Gallery of International Cigarette Pack Graphics is just about the perfect MoOM entry. It represents a single thing, executed thousands of times across time and geography and then collects them all together in one big browsable archive. Anybody got a match?
† = Most recently added
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