I haven’t visited EVERY junky museum in the world, but the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pa has got to be a contender. Now don’t be turned off by ‘junky.’ I use it here in the best sense of oddball collections and castoffs from another generation. It’s quality stuff, and it’s uniquely and daringly displayed.
Named after its founder, archeologist Henry Mercer, the Mercer Museum is part attic, part dungeon, part salvage yard, part Tim Burton movie set. It’s kooky, messy, dusty, dark, grim yet fabulously interesting.
Crammed–and I mean crammed, as in stuff hanging from the rafters–with about 50,000 artifacts and leftovers from America’s early days of industrial and agricultural life, the museum has a fanciful and gritty Willy Wonka-like quality that’s hard to describe.
No, no oompah-loompahs in sight. Just us, blending in with all the other fascinating antiquities:
We’ve all got our own special junk at home, so it’s not like we need to make pilgrammages to see more remnants of a previous life. We trekked to the Mercer to see “Lipstick and Linedrives: the Untold Story of Women’s Baseball,” an eye-opening collection of vintage photos and handbills and equipment plucked from the days of women slugging and sliding in dresses and bloomers. There were women on baseball diamonds long before the teams assembled during WWII. Actually, it all started back in the 1890s at Vassar, not with the Rockford Peaches from “A League of Their Own.” Anyone who loves the game and the Tom Hanks/Geena Davis/Madonna/ Rosie O movie would find this compilation of artifacts hugely entertaining. If you go, just don’t miss the carnival of junk across the way. It’s a bit freaky—