Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Camper?

My life is complete. I have seen Andy Williams' Christmas sweater.

The sweater resides in the Ralph Foster Museum on the College of the Ozarks campus in Hollister, Missouri. The campus is lovely. The museum is. . . interesting. It bills itself as "the Smithsonian of the Ozarks." If a person thinks of the Smithsonian as an oddly curated collection of whatchamacallits and thingamabobs, maybe they're right. Gems in the collection include:
That's not the world's largest bracket fungi with a painting on it. It's an African elephant ear. With a painting of an African elephant on it. That is so wrong on so many levels. . . 

On the other hand, if a person thinks of a museum as a place where collections are curated and exhibits scripted to actually impart some useful information to the public, the Ralph Foster Museum is definitely hit or miss. Ralph Foster was apparently a rich guy (he made his money in radio) who collected all sorts of odds and ends; he donated the whole mess to the college and established the museum. If he'd been less wealthy, he'd have turned up on "Hoarders;" as it was, there's now a three story building full of his tchotchkes. Cabinet after cabinet full of, for example, "collectible" china with no information provided other than who donated it is pretty meaningless on any level other than "look at the pretty vases." Not that it was a total bust; some exhibits did do what a good museum exhibit should do -- there was obviously an underlying script, things were arranged in a logical order, and the exhibit as a whole told you something you didn't know before. 

Besides, the musuem does have one thing going for it that no other museum can boast:

For a mere $10, you can have your photo taken while sitting in the original Beverly Hillbillies vehicle. 


  1. Love museums like that. You never know what you will find. the Beverley Hillbillies truck! Awesome. And I ahve Andy Williams Christmas CD with him in that sweater. Made my day.
    Agree about the elephant ear. Not cool.

  2. For the sake of the environment I'll assume that you folks biked there.

  3. Billy, even better than bikes -- we coasted. If you look at a map, it's obviously downhill all the way. Michigan's at the top of the map, and Texas (where we are at the moment) is at the bottom. Going home, on the other hand, will require burning fossil fuels. I feel guilty already. ;-)

  4. The elephant ear is just tragic!


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