"A handbag?!"
April 17, 2011 5:21 AM   Subscribe

What MeFite doesn't like a good niche museum? We've had posts about the great overview site Museum of Museums [previously], Patrick Acton's Matchstick Marvels [previously and previously], cat museums [previously] and even a mention of Velvetaria, the Museum of Velvet Painting [previously] - sadly now closed, awaiting new digs. I'd like to add a new one. May I present The Hendrikje Museum of Handbags and Purses?

Located in Amsterdam, it houses the world's largest collection, so you can thoroughly track the evolution of the purse from 1420 via oddities through to obscenely expensive designer bags and the latest in contemporary offerings. And then enjoy a cream tea.

The Netherlands has more niche goodies outside the capital, including a museum of gin - the drink genever, not the game - and a computer games museum, now apparently with Happy May - Vacation Offering!
posted by likeso (29 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
What? No Meguro Parasitological Museum?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:50 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ooooh! *scratch* Thanks, flapjax at midnite! *scratchscratch* Hadn't seen that one!
posted by likeso at 5:53 AM on April 17, 2011

A friend of mine wrote a book about wacky museums, just in Ontario. There was more than enough material for a book in that single province.

I live right up the street from a "Key and Locks" museum, that is basically a labour of love for a locksmith, who has turned the whole upstairs of his biz into a kooky museum of lock trivia.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:02 AM on April 17, 2011

Niche museums are great! Berkeley sadly does not have any niche museums. We have art cars.
posted by parmanparman at 6:19 AM on April 17, 2011

Wonderful stuff.
posted by carter at 7:03 AM on April 17, 2011

So help me, at first I resd that as "Velveeta," and was kind of psyched frankly.
posted by jonmc at 7:28 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been thinking of starting a collection of collections.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:49 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Add to list of Dutch niche museums several that are devoted to "jutten" which is Dutch for "beachcombing." "Jutter" is "beachcomber." (Also expressed as "strandjutten" — beach combing; "jutterij" — the business or practice of beachcombing.)

On the island Texel, there are in fact two competing jutterij museums: Shipwreck and Jutter Museum Flora, and the Texel Maritime and Jutters Museum. Elsewhere in Holland: Sea, Beach and Jutters Museum (or Mu-Zee-um — "mu-SEA-um") in Zandvoort. And on the island Terschelling the museum "'t Behouden Huys" is partially devoted to jutten.

A Dutch law that is aimed at preventing the looting of shipwrecks says it is illegal to pick up and keep anything that washes ashore — it is supposed to be turned in to police or to the "strandvonder" — an official appointed in shoreline towns as receiver of materials found on the beach. Jutten became the sport or livelihood of finding and hiding goods before the strandvonder could impound them.
posted by beagle at 7:55 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've been thinking of starting a collection of collections.

One of those links, MASSIVE LIFETIME COLLECTION OF 192 CHICKENS! MANY HUGE! doesn't seem like a bad deal to me for $500, I'm really glad I don't live nearby. Of course, even then, I wouldn't even consider it. No way.

A couple North Carolina niche museums:

The sadly defunct Sparta Teapot Museum. I just learned now they had closed. This got some Federal earmark money and was used as an example of wasteful spending. I thought it sounded like a good idea to bring some folks to the area, I guess not.

The Country Doctor Museum is supposed to be nice, I haven't been in the area at the same time they've been open.

I really want to go to the Museum of the Alphabet.

I would have loved to have bought the instant Helen of Toy Museum. They wanted too much for it.

Great post!
posted by marxchivist at 8:32 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto sounds fetishy, but is a quite serious clothing research museum.

(And with that, I just discovered Metafilter's bizarre problem with web addresses: if you omit the http:// part, it redirects to the current Metafilter page.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:42 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

marxchivist, "too much"? "Too much"?! Next you'll be saying that $42,000 is too much to pay for a T-shirt.
posted by likeso at 8:50 AM on April 17, 2011

Over at the Trip Advisor Amsterdam Forum, when a broad question is posed such as: "I'm coming to Amsterdam for 5 days, what should I do?"; the Tassenmuseum is the rote tongue-in-cheek response given by the regular contributors. I get a chuckle every time.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:11 AM on April 17, 2011

Utrecht's Museum Speelklok — filled with carillions, pianolas, steam organs, music boxes and other musical automata — is flat-out wonderful.
posted by scruss at 9:56 AM on April 17, 2011

No list of niche museums would be complete without the delightfully enthralling meta-museum: The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. Next time I visit L.A. I am going to spend a half a day there instead of a measly hour.
posted by kozad at 10:02 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Cumberland Pencil Museum
posted by alasdair at 10:08 AM on April 17, 2011

Down at Pier 45 in 'Frisco sits the Musee Mecainque, the world largest collection of mechanical music instruments and vintage arcade games. Entrance is free, all the machines run on quarters.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

... largest private collection...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2011

Also: The Marzipan Museum in Lubeck.

I haven''t been there, you understand, but the posters at Lubeck Airport look great.
posted by DanCall at 11:04 AM on April 17, 2011

The Museum of Miniatures in Prague is a small and odd place. If you start your tour of the Prague castle at the top of the hill at the Strahov Monastery (which brews excellent beer and opens at 9am), you'd be remiss to just walk past it.

Also in Prague is the Museum of Communism which is a storehouse of information and a view of the introspection that Czech people over 30 have and those under 30 have missed.
posted by Revvy at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2011

I second/third/pi/fourth/and so on the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City mentioned above. Last time I went, even a half-day wasn't quite enough. And when you're done there, head on over to the Bunny Museum in Pasadena. Then head up to Northern California for Reiff's Gas Station museum and the Sacramento Valley Medical History museum.
posted by foonly at 11:54 AM on April 17, 2011

People interested in niche museums might like this - Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans: My Search for Britain's Maddest Museums. Davies is a bit of a hack but there are some insights in his book into reasons people run small museums.
posted by paduasoy at 12:28 PM on April 17, 2011

There's also The World's Smallest Museum in Superior, AZ. I can't say if the claim is accurate, but I love that roadside kitsch still survives.
posted by azpenguin at 6:39 PM on April 17, 2011

British Lawnmower museum is as delightful as it sounds.
posted by lalochezia at 11:32 PM on April 17, 2011

To be surrounded by handbags of every shape and size... I think this would be my version of heaven.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:51 PM on April 17, 2011

The Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Covent Garden is delightful.
posted by Lexica at 10:40 AM on April 18, 2011

The Burlingame Pez Museum is pretty fun, though kind of small.
Then again, so is Pez.
posted by vivid postcard at 1:00 PM on April 18, 2011

Niche museums are great! Berkeley sadly does not have any niche museums. We have art cars.--armanparman

Very close is the Playland Not at the Beach Museum
posted by eye of newt at 8:37 PM on April 18, 2011

Just popping in to add a link to The Small Museum Association's list of members. It didn't really fit into the original post, and though many entries aren't true niche, enough are to include it here. And it makes a nice resource for US road trips.

[NOT THREADTENDINGIST] ...i'll be quiet again now
posted by likeso at 4:52 AM on April 19, 2011

I love niche museums. It's great to see so many different niches collected in one place, lovingly curated for public consumption. Some of us are on a budget and can't afford to fly around seeing all these niches in the wild.
posted by Eideteker at 11:06 AM on April 21, 2011

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