Home | Odds | The maps | Readers' comments | Pictures | History | Flowers | Contact us

Dave and Jan's travels:
Museum tutt

We've spoken in the past about tourist tutt. Today I want to talk about a separate but related phenomenon called museum tutt.

Museum tutt can be broadly defined as anything in a museum that has nothing in particular to do with the subject at hand. For example: most of Alaska's smaller museums include an old telephone with separate microphone and earpiece. This would make perfect sense in a "museum of office furniture" or even in a display of "communication throughout the ages". But it doesn't do much for a museum of bush aviation, except fill up space.

Sometimes it's clear that the curator is aware of the incongruity. "Typewriter of the kind probably used in the original departure lounge". This clutching at straws clearly shows us an embarrassed curator attempting to salve a conscience. 

Other examples of museum tutt include collections of everyday tools, dresses of a kind worn throughout the US and Europe, eyeglasses, baggage and chests of drawers. Don't think the phenomenon is limited to provincial museums, either. Anchorage Museum may not have an old telephone, but it does have a telephone exchange.

Mind you, not all tutt is created equally. To qualify as really top drawer tutt, the exhibit must never be accompanied by any interesting information. You are allowed to mention the name of the manufacturer, the original year of purchase and the original price paid. Also, the item must never be related to anything else in the museum: and ideally to nothing else in the country.

One theory is that there is a tutt warehouse somewhere in the mid west of the US. Unscrupulous curators send orders there. For example, "3 tons of 1920s tutt please to fill up my museum and make the entrance fee of $5 seem not exactly worthwhile, but at least difficult to sue about.....".