One Man’s Random is Another Man’s Collection

By , October 6, 2011 8:48 am

by Stina McClintock

On November 24, 1874, a man named Joseph Glidden was issued a patent for a strain of barbed wire dubbed “The Winner” which would go on to become the most popular form of fencing in the American West.  So monumental was this discovery that Kansas could not let a tool that “tamed the west” go uncelebrated.  Hence, the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum was created to pay homage to the fencing that illustrates the “inventiveness of the pioneers”.  I came across this little gem of a museum while reading Eight Unusual All-American Museums and discovered that I can travel to a retirement community to view (and touch!) a Titan II Missile still on its launch pad, while exploring eight underground floors capturing the Cold War and the Nuclear Threat.  Elsewhere in the US, you can view a museum dedicated to Jurassic Medicine, as well as a museum featuring Ava Gardner.

Highlighting the offbeat is not just a job for the museum world, however.  At the John Griswold White Reading Room located in downtown Cleveland, a person can go and view the world’s largest chess collection (tied only with The Hague).  John G. White was a prominent lawyer and notable chess enthusiast, who upon his death bequeathed his collection to the Cleveland Public Library along with an endowment to continue growing the collection.  Surprise special collections like this are located in libraries across the nation, of which some are highlighted in this article (appropriately titled) Libraries’ Surprising Special Collections. I’m personally booking a ticket now to Wisconsin to view the nation’s largest collection of nurse romance novels as a special Valentine’s Day getaway.  And hopefully there is a museum dedicated to the wonderment of the cheese curd located nearby.

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