From professionally curated museums devoted to specific sub-genres of art to suburban homes-turned-museums devoted to the usually discarded ephemera of modern life, from a bullfighting museum in Seville, Spain to an Afro-Brazilian culture museum in Sao Paulo, the world is full of small, obscure museums, many in unusual locales.
The Guardian recently asked several art-world taste-makers and creators about their favorite lesser-known and sometimes quirky, often obsessive, temples of culture around the world. Their list and descriptions of these museums are personal, revealing, and a welcome addition to our own To Go list of places to visit. As one contributor, Kwame Kwei-Armah, who is the artistic director of Young Vic Theatre, London, wrote of the Museu Afro Brasil...
… as I went up each floor, the history of Brazil and its connection to Nigeria and West Africa became more apparent, as the art became more abstract. In one room there was an installation of the ruins of a slave ship, which was just wonderful. You could touch the wood, hear the sounds. Then there were these abstract paintings that make you think: “Van Gogh, why did you not say this is who you copied it from?” By the end, I thought: “I need to fly my family over, to show them how a culture is remembered, preserved and celebrated.”
While some of these institutions have the curatorial gravitas and feel of professionally staffed and managed museums, others are the work of a single individual or are housed in buildings that are architecturally anything but museums.
The Centrale Montemartini in Rome, for example, is a sculpture collection housed in a massive abandoned power plant in an industrial section of the Italian capital. And then there’s the House of Dreams. It’s a densely packed, colorful collection of found discarded objects crammed into the home of its artist-collector Stephen Wright in East Dulwich, an otherwise unremarkable residential area of southeast London. The museum is itself a living work of art that at first glance might seem like the psychedelic by-product of a pathological hoarder.
We can’t wait to visit.