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October 28, 2016 5:08 AM   Subscribe

The other day, Marcin Wichary went to visit a museum near Figueres, Spain. He didn't get there; instead, he found a sign pointing to a different museum, where he found magic [Twitter thread].

Storify put together by Amy Freeborn.

Museu de la Tècnica de l'Empordà.
posted by metaquarry (43 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Whatever it is that you care about, I hope you get to experience the kind of discovery that I did today."

Amen!
posted by djeo at 5:15 AM on October 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


The Dali museum is 100% also worth a visit if you're in the area - I went there as a surly teen who didn't know much about Dali and ten years later it's still one of the best museums I've visited.
posted by terretu at 5:27 AM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is great.
posted by Artw at 5:27 AM on October 28, 2016


There are so many of these little museums dotted around the place (one of my favourites), and part of their charm is that they are not easy to catalogue. Often based on somebody's personal lifetime obsession, they have tiny staffs, invisible funding and irregular opening hours - and often just vanish overnight when leases run out or the kids inherit the property and promptly sell it. They appear just as silently.

A marvellous milieu for speculative fiction (where odd museums do pop up regularly, but never, as far as I know, as a theme).
posted by Devonian at 5:45 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


He does sound a bit like the embarrassingly clueless American, I must say. Anything with tourist signs pointing to it is hardly "hidden"

Also, he goes on and on about not speaking Spanish whereas he is right in the middle of Catalonia. (Hint: The website linked in this post is primarily in Catalan.) We will actually be in that area in February and my wife and I are practicing Catalan - despite both being fluent Spanish speakers.

(Sorry for the snark. Lots of great stuff in that area. The well-preserved Roman and Greek towns of Empuries really blew me away.)
posted by vacapinta at 5:51 AM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


And his misunderstanding of "second floor" was also very American! (In Europe, the first floor is one floor above ground level.)
posted by easternblot at 5:53 AM on October 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


I hear that Catalan is hard to learn, good luck.

I saw a touring Dali exhibit about 10 years ago. The big surprise was that "The Persistence Of Memory" is smaller than a dorm room poster of it.
posted by thelonius at 5:54 AM on October 28, 2016


Figueres also has a Toy Museum.
Also vacapinta take a drive to Port Ligat but check the calender first.
There was something very special about seeing the rock formations as they appear in the backdrop of so many Dalí paintings.
posted by adamvasco at 6:18 AM on October 28, 2016


Anything with tourist signs pointing to it is hardly "hidden"

I'm assuming you don't get out much. The fact that the local city saw fit to put up a sign does little to raise something from obscurity. In fact entire cities are considered hidden despite showing up on road maps.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:19 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


This story is exactly why I travel.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:21 AM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I volunteered for the Red Cross in college, and I was tabling at a campus service fair one evening right next to a table that said International Museum of Surgical Science. I had been flitting around from subject to subject, and history of medicine was the only thing that really held my interest, and there's this table right next to me. "There's a museum of surgical science?" "Yup!" "In Chicago???" "Yup!"

It's a small museum in an old converted Gold Coast mansion and was full of all of the weird little things that were fascinating to me. I wrote a tour for the place and docented there for the next few years.

It's really really cool stumbling into a building full of Your Thing.
posted by phunniemee at 6:27 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


This story is exactly why I travel.

I was sorta grinning after I read the story, and then I came to this comment and the grin turned to sort of a wistful smile, because I know I'm not the sort of person who would have followed an odd sign in a strange place.

I'm going to have to try harder to be that type of person.
posted by Mooski at 6:29 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why would they have a museum of weird keyboards? I bet some of them don't even have USB plugs! USELESS!
posted by blue_beetle at 6:33 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming you don't get out much.

The opposite is true! Things with signs are easy. Usually when we travel we end up having to actually stop and chat with locals to find what we're looking for.

Here in England recently, for example, we read about Chartist settlements and then went out to see one. Not all the buildings in the village are Chartist of course and so we got out and walked around and were misdirected a few times. Finally, we found an old woman selling fruit and discovered that she was the direct descendant of an original Chartist and lived off her land still! (One of the few left of her kind and she was so proud and happy that we appreciated it too.)

I did a recent post on brown-signing here on Metafilter which is about these sorts of discoveries - at least here in the UK.

Also, I agree about exploring the little museums. The British surfing museum in Devon is only one room in a shack by the ocean but it is really fascinating.
posted by vacapinta at 6:50 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine has a similar story about the penis museum outside of Akureyri in Iceland.

Less tactile engagement with the exhibits though.
posted by entropone at 6:52 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Aw, that was sweet!
posted by xingcat at 7:01 AM on October 28, 2016


I love Catalonia!
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:06 AM on October 28, 2016


I know Marcin. I can't imagine a happier experience for him. He takes deep joy in typewriters, to stumble into this must have been pure magic. A rare case where I enjoy reading a bunch of tweets because I saw them coming in real time, so there was a bit of anticipation for the reveal.

Marcin's an Internet treasure. Some previous MeFi discussions: Yerba Buena Island, Phelan building in SF, and software bugs, typography, and keyboards. I'm also a fan of his Polish TV show Alternatywy 4 edit for an American audience and the loving recreation of a Polish State TV clock for it. He's also a Stanisław Lem fan.

Now to be cranky... His name is spelled Marcin Wichary, not "Martin Wichery". It'd be nice to correct it in the post and tags. And vacapinta, I think your snark is misplaced. He's not a stereotypical clueless American; he's well travelled, grew up in Poland, and is a remarkably thoughtful person. I think his clueless shtick was a bit of self-effacing humor. And it's not unreasonable to think the folks at the tourist site in Catalonia were speaking Spanish to the foreign visitor instead of Catalan.
posted by Nelson at 7:15 AM on October 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


As a typewriter fan myself I found this delightful, but might have found it even delightfuller had it been told in a less piecemeal way than via dozens of tweets. Many thanks for the post, metaquarry!
posted by misteraitch at 7:23 AM on October 28, 2016


One time I was in a convoy with my Reserve unit, traveling from suburban Detroit to an exercise outside Battle Creek, and something happened on the highway, so we had to detour to surface streets. I was snoozing in the back seat, and I happened to wake up just as we stopped on the main street of Marshall, Michigan, exactly in front of the American Museum of Magic. As you can see from the photo, it is not exactly the Louvre in size or notability from the street. I came so close to pulling rank and ordering a halt for some spurious reason; instead, I just texted a photo to my spouse and demanded that we go to Marshall some day.

Of course, I forgot about it over the course of the weekend, but my spouse did not, and a couple of years later, we loaded the kids in the car and went off on a mystery trek. Of course, we were going to Marshall, and not only spent the morning at the AMM, but just down the block is a crazy good U.S. Postal Service Museum. It is, like the AMM, pretty much just the work of one guy who has assembled a gigantic collection in a couple of rooms in the basement (and a garage of old postal vehicles).

We also saw the Honolulu House, which was vaguely interesting in that "Oh, this is an old house. Nice." kind of way, but man, if not for that one convoy on that one weekend...
posted by Etrigan at 7:25 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


The idea of getting to type on the first model with a QWERTY keyboard is just sublime! I'm so jealous!
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:27 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


This story is why I come to Metafilter.
posted by fungible at 7:37 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I know Marcin. I can't imagine a happier experience for him. He takes deep joy in typewriters, to stumble into this must have been pure magic

It is too bad all that wasn't made clear in the post which was presented as random guy goes to quirky museum. That a typewriter geek would not know about this beforehand and then randomly stumble into it, does indeed sound magical!
posted by vacapinta at 7:50 AM on October 28, 2016


"There's a museum of surgical science?" "Yup!" "In Chicago???" "Yup!"

There's also the Wood Library—Museum of Anesthesiology in nearby Schaumburg. The reason those museums are where they are is that the American College of Surgeons and American Society of Anesthesiologists are located there.
posted by TedW at 7:51 AM on October 28, 2016


"I dislike computers, particularly because of what they did to my friend the typewriter."
- David Sedaris
posted by prepmonkey at 7:52 AM on October 28, 2016


Tell Me No Lies: This story is exactly why I travel.

Agreed! I wandered around Dublin and came across the Chester Beatty Library, which is on the grounds of Dublin Castle, where I picked up a couple posters from the Katsushika Hokusai exhibit.

Fortuitous discoveries are magical, but this typewriter museum moreso than most. Thanks for sharing!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:52 AM on October 28, 2016


Here's Marcin's Ignite talk on Typewriters from July, before he stumbled into this museum. Unfortunately the sound quality is crappy, but in 5 minutes you can get a sense of his personality and love for the weird details of typewriters. His image of bizarro keys is pretty hilarious.

Marcin's essay on The curious case of the disappearing Polish S captures this same kind of love for the history of typing in written form. His personal site has a lot more stuff too.

BTW, the Twitter moment view is probably the best way to see the photos in the original post. It's missing at least one text tweet though.
posted by Nelson at 8:04 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


What a lovely story :)
posted by Neekee at 8:15 AM on October 28, 2016


This was completely lovely. I saw it on twitter and immediately sent it to my husband (garius here), a big fan of tiny obscure museums. Of course it turns out he is already following Marcin...

It is too bad all that wasn't made clear in the post which was presented as random guy goes to quirky museum.

I'd never heard of this guy before and I felt like that was pretty clear from the series of tweets. How else would he know the name for a Bar-lock typewriter or that it had a "non-shifted keyboard" - these are terms that mean nothing to me but they clearly do to him. How else would he have known he was typing on the first keyboard to have the QWERTY setup?
posted by *becca* at 8:24 AM on October 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


I want that music note typewriter. I'm coming for you Museu de la Tècnica. Set your laser alarms.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:29 AM on October 28, 2016


Marcin also created an excellent website dedicated to the Pet Shop Boys' single Being Boring, still up and running and exactly the same as when I discovered it in 2001 or so.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:04 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


BTW, the Twitter moment view is probably the best way to see the photos in the original post. It's missing at least one text tweet though.

Wait wait wait wait...

This seems to be Moments... being actually useful for something? How can this be?
posted by Artw at 9:08 AM on October 28, 2016


I'm amazed he was -allowed- to type, to actually put his grubby fingers on and pound cheerfully away, on these relics. This seems like an invitation to breakage.
posted by The otter lady at 9:15 AM on October 28, 2016


This seems to be Moments... being actually useful for something? How can this be?

Actually being able to make your own moments is kinda useful for replacing storify. but still clunky. Wish I could view only the moments that people I follow made.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:16 AM on October 28, 2016


One must check out the accordion and skiing museum when visiting Klingenthal Germany.
posted by boilermonster at 9:25 AM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Actually being able to make your own moments is kinda useful for replacing storify. but still clunky. Wish I could view only the moments that people I follow made.

That would make it an actual feature and not unwanted garbage!
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


His name is spelled Marcin Wichary

Fixed! Toss a display error flag on a comment like that and it'll get done quicker.
posted by cortex at 9:39 AM on October 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I want that music note typewriter.

I was really confused by that one until I realized that they'd put the paper in at 90 degrees to how it must actually function.
posted by hades at 12:11 PM on October 28, 2016


Why would they have a museum of weird keyboards? I bet some of them don't even have USB plugs! USELESS!

This sounds like a Donald tweet. I don't know if that was the intention or not but it does.
posted by axiom at 1:12 PM on October 28, 2016


And nary an Escape key in sight...
posted by pantufla_milagrosa at 12:13 AM on October 29, 2016


This reminds me so much of when I went to Bavaria with my parents, and as we were on our way to Lake Constance I happened to see a town on the map called Ravensburg. Since we are all huge puzzle freaks and life-long Ravensburger fans, we decided to take a detour through it, just in case it was the Ravensburg. AND IT WAS!!! And there's a Ravensburger puzzle museum, which we visited!!!! I still feel all those exclamation marks today, thinking about it.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 6:42 AM on October 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine has a similar story about the penis museum outside of Akureyri in Iceland.
The penis museum is perhaps iceland's most famous attraction, after the volcanoes, northern lights, and that fancy church.
posted by palbo at 1:58 PM on October 29, 2016


I believe it was originally unknown and outside Akureyri and then gained popularity. The first time I went to Iceland, about twelve years ago, it was small and often closed and relatively unknown. And at that point it had moved to Reykjavik, though I think in a different spot from where it is now.
posted by dame at 3:16 PM on October 29, 2016


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