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.
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.