The Museum of Failure Delivers
We’ve all had ideas fail miserably, and seldom do we get to celebrate its ruin. Why not acknowledge that that spatula-turned-massager was a complete piece of crap? At the Museum of Failure, no flop is too big to be put on display and be viewed by millions. Feels good to have the whole world recognize your mess-ups, right? Well, 80% to 90% of all innovations sink. Known for displaying such foolish creations such as a baby exercise machine, to a Trump Monopoly game that, according to the museum’s curator, is “a boring version of monopoly simplified so stupid people can play it,” as well as a product known as Heinz Green Ketchup, that percentage certainly seems right.
Still less terrible than putting it on a hotdog.
The Museum of Failure first began in 2017 in Helsingborg, Sweden, but has since morphed into a touring exhibition all across the world, and it's been a success, ironically. Its mission, courtesy of its website, is “to stimulate productive discussion about failure and inspire us to take meaningful risks.”
Incredibly forgiving to how far defeat can go, Samuel West, the curator of the space, argues that screw-ups are a great motivator for innovation. A licensed psychologist, West assures that “Each failure is uniquely spectacular while success is nauseatingly repetitive.” But hey, if your idea is going to bomb, you may as well learn why it didn’t work. And how do you do that? By, as West says, “seeing those fails.”
So next time your invention for a tubular low-calorie snack goes south, maybe analyze your audience a bit more carefully.
Many of the discoveries on display were found on eBay. The exhibit is composed of about 100 misfires, from edible inventions gone wrong to straight-up poor decision making. This includes Crystal Pepsi, Blak (a collab between Diet Coke and coffee), as well as these gems that never kicked off, and it’s definitely for the better.
The “toilette” is exactly where this belongs.
Failure is a productive way of getting to know your idea. In essence, many products would not be where they are today had they not needed another go. For instance, take the Apple Newton MessagePad that's attributed as the first attempt at the iPhone. Deemed “a bulky hand-held gizmo from 1993 touted as the first personal digital assistant with handwriting recognition.” We may never have had our portrait-mode selfies had this dinosaur not gone through its extinction. And then rebirth.
You may be wondering what the biggest disaster the museum holds might be. Surprisingly, it isn’t the spray-on condom and not even alleged the Colgate-branded beef lasagna. Yes, Colgate, as in Colgate toothpaste. Fuggetaboutit. (Note: there's debate, even from Colgate themselves, as to whether or not it was actually in development.)
“Also available in Wintergreen.”
The museum recognizes a much more appropriate candidate for the title of inadequacy, and that is former President of the US, Donald Trump. As is stated in the description of his horrible invention, “There are some that can do nothing but win … at failure.” Never mind the Trump Monopoly game; he’s enough to carry the title in his very being.
And if you don’t think that’s the biggest flop of all time, then there’s not much more the museum can do to convince you.
For more of Oona’s sarcasm and attempted wit, visit her website oonaoffthecuff.com.
Top Image: Pepsi