Come Fail with the Museum of Failure
When I first asked friends to come with me to the Museum of Failure during its pop-up tour in Los Angeles, many immediately thought it was going to be a depressing exhibit, akin to the Museum of Broken Relationships. They couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Museum of Failure is an entertaining and funny walk down the memory lane of weird and doomed inventions. Often I found myself laughing at how anyone could think a specific gadget or marketing campaign was a good idea, gasping “I remember that!” or even wondering why something that sounds so good on paper flopped in reality.
Containing artifacts ranging from the 1626 Swedish warship, Vasa, to present day’s attempted technological advances, the Museum of Failure really shines with its inclusion of many ‘80s-‘90s devices – but that could just be my nostalgia talking. Like an infomercial fever dream, I recognized a ton of items in the exhibit, from the Flowbee hair-trimmer to the nightmare-inducing Rejuvenique face mask, from New Coke to Life Savers Holes, from Blockbuster Video to the Power Glove. Not only were the things on display fun to look at and remember, but I got a kick out of the blurbs too, each written with a tongue-in-cheek flair, some almost going as far as to ask, “WTF were they thinking?”
Farther into the exhibit, passed the Titanic and Ford Edsel, after the horrifying Little Miss No Name and diarrhea-inducing Olestra, there was a bigger set-up devoted to our one-and-only POTUS and his long list of failures – Trump University, Trump: The Game, Trump Vodka, Trump Ice and others. To be honest, I felt like this was one of the most deserved entries, as the majority of the others came from a place of innovation and trying to further advance technology or push boundaries in some way. This Trump collection seemed to be a cash-grab marketing ploy, with no other motive behind the brand.
At the back of the exhibit, there was a Failure Confessional, where visitors could anonymously write down their bad decisions and find comfort in others’. Failure is a human experience and we do it almost daily, which is the idea presented by Dr. Samuel West in his creation of the Museum. Failure is an essential component of progress and innovation, and it should not be stigmatized but encouraged, even laughed at. The products displayed ran the gamut of human imagination, from the unfortunately-named weight-loss chocolate AYDS, to the beaten-by-competitors Betamax and HD-Video. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and left wondering what might end up there in the future.
Originating in Sweden, the Museum of Failure is currently housed in the Los Angeles Architecture and Design Museum. It is open to all, but will most likely bore kids and some teens.