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Britains unusual museums and the people who run them
on 8 August 2010
Britain has some world class museums - The British Museum, The V & A, The Science Museum etc, etc - but we also have plenty of not so famous ones. How many people know that in the UK there are museums devoted to fans, lawnmowers, old wireless radios and even the humble baked bean? It is a fair bet that there will be many people unaware of their existence that only live within a few minutes from their location.
In his latest book Hunter Davies investigates these offbeat museums but primarily the people who have put them together and now run them. He attempts to find out what kind of people they are and what it is that motivates them. He soon learns that it is certainly not for financial gain as most of these museums barely break even let alone make a profit. Predictably he finds the occasional eccentric (the baked bean museum is ran by a man who has had his name changed to Captain Beany, and his mobile phone ringtone requests that Captain Beany communicate to Planet Beanus) but also a lady who has used her museum to help get over a bereavement, a man whose love of the old fashioned help curve his childhood criminal tendencies and various people whose mania for collecting has left them with the desire to exhibit their treasures to the public.
Unfortunately I don't really think these stories are sufficient to carry a whole book and I would have preferred to have read more about the actual museums and their contents than what this book offers. This kind of information is far better given in the two `Bollocks to Alton Towers' books that also cover this type of visitor attraction. Not only are these books more informative but they are also written in a much more entertaining style.
Whilst this is not a bad book, I was expecting rather more from it than it offers. It is certainly not in the same league as the same authors mighty `The Glory Game', forty years on still the finest ever look at the everyday life of a professional football club.