The Museum of Folly is widely recognized as the world’s foremost museum dedicated to educating an international audience about the contributions of clowns, jesters, oafs, and fools to the art and history of idiocacy, wrongheadedness, farce, and foolishness.
Despite our recent relocation to an expansive new state-of-the-art facility (view the front facade and main entrance here), display space remains limited, for, in the words of the Fool Societies of medieval Europe, numerus stultorum est infinitus — the number of fools is infinite. Preservation and conservation of our priceless artifacts is our prime mandate and, to protect these sometimes fragile and light-sensitive works, at any given time most of our objects are in conservation or storage and not available for public viewing.
But the selection of objects in our galleries is rotated frequently, and we are acquiring new ones all the time. So we encourage visitors to return often. Mark Twain wrote that “the gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad,” but we believe it is possible to obtain much of the same benefits that world travel confers by perusing masterworks from many cultures, carefully preserved and displayed in a world-class museum setting.
The Museum of Folly takes as its motto the words of William Blake — inscribed on one of the monumental columns in Erasmus Hall, the museum’s central gathering space — “If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.”
The museum’s director is Dr. Thom W. Xensen, a respected scholar with a long and distinguished history of tomfoolery.
To help you plan your visit, following is a list of highlights from each floor.