Quick, where’s the best place to display a teddy bear made out of belly-button lint, a George Washington funeral card and your dad’s kidney stones? Curious? You can quench that curiosity (and see many more oddities) by visiting the Museum of Curious Things, which happens to be housed in your favorite brand of trailer.
Matt Baker had long collected curiosities from his many trips on the road, and when the opportunity came up to purchase a gutted 27-foot 1971 Overlander, he jumped at the chance. “I have always collected unusual objects, with an eye towards eventually opening a museum somewhere. When my friend offered me the trailer, it seemed like a unique way to present a museum. I thought it perfectly aligned with the odd things that I wanted to display,” he says.
The trailer had been used as a clothing store at a trailer park mall in Seattle, where Baker is based. He installed cabinets, and secured display cases and the objects themselves. Baker’s full-time gig is as a stand-up comedian and a stunt showman who demonstrates unusual skills at venues all over the world, thus his opportunities to see—and collect—the odd and unusual in his travels. “My collection is always growing, so naturally we add things in as we see fit. Generally, if we get a new object that would be cooler in the museum then another, we switch them out,” he says.
He tows the museum to festivals, fairs and the occasional corporate event, always letting attendees enter for free. “This summer we brought it into some libraries, which was a lot of fun. I believe that museums should be free to the public, though we charge the venue a flat fee to come in. The farthest away from Seattle we have traveled is to Northern California, but we have had talks with a few booking managers about a full-on tour across the country. It can go anywhere—it just has to be worth it for us to travel far.”
Baker says that people seem to respond the most to the Mini Aquatic Elephant and the Feejee Mermaid, though the trailer itself gets some admiration too. “The Airstream was the perfect choice. People love what we have done with it and it complements the museum perfectly. I love how excited people get to just come inside an old Airstream. We were thinking about adding a bar in the back to open it up for more private parties.”
Well, having a couple of drinks might make those curious things all the curiouser, but that’s probably not so bad. You can see more about the museum and its collection at the museum site.
By Tom Bentley