Spread across two floors of a regal old 1920s bank building in Astoria, Oregon, this collection is packed with unexpected finds at every turn. It’s a smorgasbord of quirky curiosities, so you never know what treasures or trinkets you’ll come across.
There’s little rhyme or reason to the assortment of oddities. The oldest item, a Native American chair seat made from colored porcupine quills, dates from the 1850s. But the rest of the whimsical wonders are a medley of old and new artifacts from around the world.
You can climb inside a full-sized replica of a British canal narrowboat parked unceremoniously within the old bank building, scan the exhibits for intricate wax boxes, or simply wander the room until you stumble across a piece of vintage clothing or jewelry that sparks your interest.
There are so many things to see, it’s difficult to decide where to start. A striking collection of Folies Bergère dresses and hats immediately catches your eye as you enter—some of the hats even have the name of the dancer who once wore them scrawled inside. Dolls, both daintily beautiful and disturbingly lifelike, are scattered throughout like well-stationed guards. Taxidermy creatures, including a charmingly cute miniature horse, lurk in unexpected places and antique curios hide among newly commissioned works.
The museum is the work of Trish Bright, a retired stockbroker who bought the former bank with her husband in 2005. The curated odds and ends that fill the space are her ever-growing passion project.
“museums are custodians of epiphanies,
and these epiphanies
enter the central nervous system and deep recesses of the mind.”
credits: museum of whimsy, trish bright, atlas obscura