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A bundle of bungles at the Museum of Failure

21 April 2017

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

In Helsingborg, Sweden, innovation guru Samuel West has put together a collection of impressively shoddy inventions and products and brought them together under one roof to form the world’s very first ‘Museum of Failure’. The 60 exhibits range from a Monopoly-like Donald Trump board game from the 1980s to a specialised medical tool designed for performing speedy lobotomies. The unifying theme is that every one of them proved to be a commercial disaster.

‘Learning is the only way to turn failure into success’, the museum’s website declares, adding that every one of the its exhibits ‘provides unique insight into the risky business of innovation’. Quite what anyone might be able to learn from products including a 1989 perfume launched by Harley Davidson and a lasagna marketed by toothpaste brand Colgate is beyond the Rake’s powers of intuition, but West does have a sobering point: ‘I’ve noticed how success is always put up on a pedestal,’ he told CNN, ‘but the failures are always swept under the carpet and you don’t talk about them.’

When the museum opens in June, West plans to host a range of evening activities, which may include a ‘failed gourmet tasting menu at a fancy restaurant’ and a ‘tasting of failed brews from regional microbreweries’. ‘I know, and everybody knows, that up to 90% of innovation fails,’ says West. Let’s just hope his latest innovation doesn’t meet the same fate as its constituent parts…

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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