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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Museum Piece

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A little earlier, I was helping my mom run some errands. This gave us a chance to talk, and the conversation drifted in and out of various topics. A little earlier, we’d had a conversation about things we’d like to see come to town, and one of the things she mentioned wanting to have was a museum, something cultural that the public as a whole could enjoy.

Well, I’d been turning things around in my head for a while, as well as a few other things. I ended up putting them all together at once, and in short order I came up with an idea: The Museum of Kitsch.

Wikipedia ( ) defines “kitsch” as “art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way.” This is a general definition, but it actually varies from person to person as to just what makes up “kitsch”. Perhaps the most obvious example of kitsch is the ever-infamous “Velvet Elvis”, that is, an image of singer Elvis Presley painted on a piece of velvet (usually a piece that’s black in color).

But there are other things that could be considered kitsch. One type of artwork is the style that focuses on “found” objects, that is artwork made from everyday objects that aren’t normally considered art in and of themselves. For example, there’s a local artist that makes desktop-sized military vehicles using engine parts and other components that have been cleaned up and assembled.

Things get a bit fuzzy from there as far as definitions go. Does “retro” artwork and material count as kitsch? Would the original vintage items even count in the first place? After all, if, say, an original bit of quirky advertising from the 1950s wouldn’t even count, then neither would a modern-day effort to reproduce it. I, personally, make room for the old, odd, and quirky, especially if something’s all three.

In fact, such a museum could have an entire section devoted to “the way things were”. Imagine, if you will, an interactive exhibit in which people try to make a phone call using an old rotary telephone (it would be connected to another phone on the other side of the facility) or another interactive exhibit in which people try to type a sentence on a manual typewriter. Let’s see how many people still know how to do these things.

Yes, such a museum would likely need a section set off near the front entrance just to explain what it’s all about and why it even exists in the first place. It would probably involve a small sampling, everything from kid’s meal toys to a Velvet Elvis as quick examples. The rest of the items on display would be in their proper categories. Perhaps, say, a section devoted to “found” art. And maybe one devoted to older items and whatnot.

So – if such a museum was indeed to exist in reality, what sort of objects would you like to see in there?

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No, seriously – if you would like to have a museum, park, or any other such public work in your community, read up on the protocol for communicating this to your town’s officials so that you can make the proposal to them. If people don’t speak up, their city leadership doesn’t know. And if the city leadership doesn’t know, they can’t make it happen. This is where your voice is important.


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