Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans, My Search for Britain’s Maddest Museums by Hunter Davies

In the past Britain was known for its eccentric collectors, usually well off Victorian gentleman, with many of our museum collections starting off as a rich man’s hobby. This book searches out modern day mad museums and the people behind them. I was attracted to this book as it contained a chapter on the Keswick Pencil Museum, which I came across several years a go when my son was little on a wet and windy day in the Lakes. We only went in for a laugh, but it was wonderful! You meet Barry whose love of baked beans led to him legally changing his name to Captain Beany and creating The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence in his Welsh council flat, a kleptomaniac vintage wireless collector who’s museum was supported by Sir Paul Getty and the well sign posted Kelveden Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker. A fascinating and funny look at some of our weirdest and most wonderful museums. I loved finding out what drove these peoples’ passion for their collections and for some their time obsession with one single thing from lawnmowers to bagpipes! The book is driven by Hunter Davies notion of setting up his own museum as he is an avid collector of ‘stuff’ from Beatles Memorabilia to stamps. There are a couple of museums that I think could have been left out, while exploring more about some of the more interesting ones. You could write a whole book on the life of Gerald Wells, vintage wireless buff! Funny, interesting and at times quite sad as you learn a little bit about these people’s lives.

Jane

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