Friday, 17 January 2014

The Bakelite Museum in Somerset

Bakelite Museum

It was one of those fortuitous moments where a sign catches your eye as you're driving from A to B:

The Bakelite Museum.

The what?! We'd had no idea that such a thing existed. It didn't, frankly, sound like the sort of museum that had any right being a museum.

Bakelite Museum

We weren't in any great hurry, so we turned around and pulled in for a look around. It was immediately obvious that we were visiting a rather haphazard, private collection. Instructions asked us to pay at the cafe, which was closed, and we'd seen half of the museum before the owner turned up to request our payment.

The Bakelite Museum is one of the strangest museums I've visited, in part because its contents are comparatively modern. This isn't a collection of ancient artefacts, it's a collection of cheap plastic toys and hairdryers and plates. Well, okay, it wasn't entirely everyday stuff: there was also a Bakelite coffin and a boxed set of false teeth! Items were packed into drawers, balanced on the rafters, and stacked on top of one another. It felt like if you touched anything, half of a display might come toppling down on your head.

The collections aren't strictly limited to Bakelite, either. Other historic plastics and plastic-precursors like vulcanite also get their own sections, while plastic trinkets of almost every kind appear to fit in somewhere. Bakelite itself has an important place in the history of plastics, being the first such invention to really take off, and so it's fascinating to see some of the products that started it all.

Weird, but also just a little bit wonderful.

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum

Bakelite Museum


Pauline Persing said...

Looks like the kind of a place where an old person could go and say, "I remember this. Do you?" We have a shop in town called "Midwest Memories". Your photos remind me of its displays though it doesn't have a theme as specific as Bakelite. All of Midwest Memories items are for sale. Old junk, some people would say.

Anonymous said...

That is strange and unusual but so fun that you looked! Maybe my MIL isn't a hoarder after all. Maybe she's starting a museum. LOL

Charlotte Klein said...

What the what…. What a neat, weird, and interesting collection of trinkets. OMG, FAKE TEETH!!! HAHAHA, that's just bizarre.

There's a museum in Philadelphia called the Mutter--it's kind of a museum of science oddities (they have a display case of things people have choked on and died from over the years as well as the first instruments used in operations) and this kind of reminds me of that.

Rachel said...

Isn't it just these oddities that make life fun, though? Evidence of someone's curiosity and enthusiasm...

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Wow, how strange, in a good way! Maybe my son can open a stuffed animal museum!

Elizabeth Braun said...

Looks terrific! I wonder if they had any Bako building sets, which my bro and I used to play with when we were kids in the 70s and early 80s and which were more or less antique then.

I've still got one of those flour grader flour shakers, although I never knew there were mini versions for herbs etc. Love 'em! And 'phones like we had when I was small! YAY! This is a place I must put on my wish list.

Jenny Woolf said...

I think I passed this and it was closed, I'd have loved to see it. Ah well your pictures have shown me some of what there was. I am sure the atmosphere made it worth visiting too. I am slightly shocked at how many of those things I recall. My grandmother had a hair dryer like that. I hadn't thought of it for so many years and now I remember what it was like, how it felt, smelled, etc. !

Crystal Patton said...

That's definitely a unique collection! I love finding places like that when I'm traveling or visiting a new city. Stopping by from the SITS Tribe Challenge.

christine said...

I'm just not going to admit to how many of those "artifacts" I remember or owned!!!!!! x

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