museum of folly | stuff and nonsense

7 museum of folly

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The Oxymoron Museum

Membership department

"<a href="">at the oxymoron museum</a>" ©John Atkinson, Wrong Hands

at the oxymoron museum” ©John Atkinson, Wrong Hands

Our Membership department is pleased to announce another reciprocal museum benefit for our members. All members will now receive admission to the Oxymoron Museum. This museum is brilliantly curated by its director, John Atkinson, who has organized its collections with unusual rigor.

I’m a Fool for You, 1968, by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions

Permanent collection


Audio recording, from the album This Is My Country
Curtom Records

The fool and his sceptre, 1515, by Hans Holbein the Younger (Swiss, 1497-1543)


Han Holbein, marginal drawing in The Praise of Folly.

Ink on paper; marginal drawing in the first edition of The Praise of Folly, by Desiderius Erasmus (Dutch, 1466-1536)
Kupferstichkabinett, Basel

Erasmus, acclaimed as a great writer, was also a great collector of books. “Your library,” he rhapsodized, “is your paradise.” In fact, he said, “When I get a little money I buy books, and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” Folly or wisdom?

Among the books in Erasmus’s collection was a first edition of his own brilliant In Praise of Folly. This indispensable volume is on the bookshelf of every curator here at the Museum of Folly. All great deeds, Erasmus maintains in this book, are founded on foolishness. We have taken this advice to heart.

Erasmus’s copy of his first edition is noted for marginal illustrations by Hans Holbein. Holbein painted for the English royal family on Erasmus’s recommendation. For The Praise of Folly he drew this image of a fool with a sceptre in his own image. It suggests that the person who studies the fool is himself a fool. Like Erasmus, we here at MOFO embrace that label.

William Willeford, a twentieth-century psychoanalyst, wrote a book called The Fool and His Sceptre. As those in his profession are wont to do, he perceived the fool’s sceptre as a phallus. Erasmus probably wouldn’t have minded. All humans are born from folly, he said.

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam, prob. 1523, by Hans Holbein the Younger. oil and tempera on panel. National Gallery, London.

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam, prob. 1523, by Hans Holbein the Younger. Oil and tempera on panel. National Gallery, London.


Museum of Water

Membership department

Museum of Water.

Museum of Water.

Our membership department is pleased to introduce another sister institution with reciprocal benefits for our lower-level members. The Museum of Water is “a collection of publicly donated water and accompanying stories.”

The museum boasts more than “700 bottles in the collection, ranging from water from a holy river in India, to a burst London water main, ice from a Sussex field, a melted snowman, 20-year-old evaporated snow from Maine, condensation from a Falmouth window, Hackney rainwater, a new born baby’s bath water, Norwegian spit, three types of wee, two different breaths and water from a bedside table said to be infused with dreams.”

Some of our members maintain that a museum of water makes too much sense to be associated with the Museum of Folly. But our management team finds it hard to resist an institution with these kinds of liquid assets.


Roger Rabbit, 2016

Contemporary, USA

Roger Rabbit, "Manure Happens," Daggett Farm, Slater Park, Pawtucket, RI

Slater Park, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Mixed organic and inorganic materials
Daggett Farm

Sometimes the simplest labels are the best, such as this one, photographed by a member of the MoFo staff at a sister institution in the great city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Though brief, the label is profound. Analogy could be made to this poem by Gary Snyder, from his collection Axe Handles:

All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even
Watch it sprout.

A mind like compost.

Our sister institutions are multiplying like rabbits!

Membership department

bunny museum

From the Director:

It seems all our staff is doing these days is taking field trips to other museums. People! We really need to get a little less focused! How about an actual exhibition once in a while?

The latest addition to the list of our possible reciprocal membership admissions, in honor of the Year of the Rabbit, is the Bunny Museum in L.A., the hoppiest place in the world!

Warning signs, 21st c.

Contemporary, Graphics department, Operations department, Visitor Services department

warning signs

Various places of origin
Plastic, metal, wood, and colors
Various lenders

Since our building is new, our Operations, Visitor Services, and Graphics departments have been researching signage options. This small exhibition of 14 signs presents those that our cross-departmental working team felt would be most suitable for our institution.

Below is a list of what the signs signify, as well as the original source.

Continue reading this label …

Signed first edition of Plato’s Republic

Bookstore, Historical

autographed plato's republic

Mofo Store Manager Kenneth  Whirlow is pleased to announce the acquisition of a special addition to our store’s rare books selection. The book is a rare signed first edition of Plato’s Republic. Whirlow (acting on a tip from famous book scout Nico) was able to acquire the book from eBay of all places; the original listing follows:

Continue reading this label …

Another Sister Institution: The Museum of Obsessions

Membership department

museum of obsessions

Our Membership department was excited to learn about a new institution called The Museum of Obsessions. We hope to arrange reciprocal admission for our members.

Sister Institutions

Membership department

buggy wrenches at the farm wrench museum

The museum’s Membership department is exploring the possibility of a reciprocal museums program. Some of the institutions we are hoping to partner with include the following. We will add more institutions to the list as we continue our research:

We welcome suggestions from the public about other museums for possible inclusion in this program.