Note: This post is part of my “Museums Project“, a collection of 200+ high-concept ideas for museums.
I’ll admit up front that this museum is emotion-specific: It’s created to trigger the feelings like annoyance and longing. It is not a museum for those without much self-control or those with an obsessive compulsive disorder.
A while back, I was at an art show which had some art made of little wooden 2” square cubes. Each face of each cube had a different design on it. About 20 of them rested on three different shallow shelves positioned at about eye level.
One of the people I was at this show with reached out and picked up a cube. At first it didn’t register with me, but another person with us scolded, “that’s ART, you can’t touch it!”
It was true. And it was obvious – nothing else in the space had even the slightest call to be touched. Everyone knows you don’t go around touching stuff in an art gallery.
But the more surprising thing was that while I was at that show I witnessed many people doing the exact same thing.
These cubes – reminiscent of a sort of children’s alphabet blocks – just beckoned all passerby to reach out and touch it, inspect it, rearrange it. There was something about this art that was special.
That exhibit – and particularly inviting furry coats – are some of the inspiration for The Museum of Stuff You Really Want to Touch But Can’t.
Everything in the museum cries out to be touched – but none of it can be. I don’t know if there’s any other museum that would purposely trigger the emotions this one would and I think it would be interesting to see if strangers bond and talk about their desire to touch these things and how annoying the whole place is. But hopefully it’s annoying in a good and fascinating way that inspires reflection.
The museum would play on tactile semiotics: We taken cues that commonly mean “touch” or “pull” or “push” and we try to get them to mindlessly engage just as the woman in the gallery engaged with those blocks instinctively.
It could be as obvious as a red button that says “press me” on it, but there’s a sign above the exhibit that says “Please do not press”.
A puzzle, completed except for one piece. That piece is positioned over the last remaining hole, just waiting to be pressed down in victory.
Lots of fuzzy and shaggy stuff.
Live baby chicks and kittens everywhere.
A bookshelf with one book that is falling out.. just a bit.
A sweater with a loose thread.
Things that are clearly out of order that could be easily fixed.
Fragile vases and dishes dangling over the edge of a table.
A marquee with two transposed letters.
Telescopes and microscopes that you can’t look into.
Puffy looking soft stuff you want to sit in.
A gong or whack-a-mole you can’t hit.
Hundred dollar bills strewn all over the hallway floor.
The Counterpart To This Museum
This museum might be part of a museum duo – the other obviously being “The Museum of Stuff You Really Don’t Want to Touch But Have To”. Maybe once you’re inside, we cover the doorknobs with boogers and close you in. If you want to get out you have to touch the boogers.
I suspect that The Museum of Stuff You really Don’t Want to Touch But Have To would be even less popular than The Museum of Stuff You Want To Touch But Can’t.
What if we took this in a different direction? A more meaningful direction?
A More Meaningful Version
Maybe there’s a whole other take that shows you what you have been wanting or ignoring in life but can’t or haven’t touched. It might be called “The Museum of Stuff You Don’t Touch But Really Should”.
Garbage scatted all over the ground that you have to walk through and it’s next to a garbage can.
A life-size diorama of people suffering and the solution only visible to you, for example people in another country dying for lack of clean water next to a few bottles of evian (or more hamfistedly a water pitcher labeled something like “Americans Only”)
This idea deserves its own post, though.