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Where the exhibits speak loud than words

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Sweden’s “Museum of Failure” features the Trump board game



CASED in glass and lit up by neon lights, the Donald Trump board game, the plastic bicycle, an electric beauty mask, bottles of Green Ketchup and a host of other unlikely innovations have found fame again in Sweden’s Museum of Failure.
The museum, one floor of a cultural centre in the coastal town of Helsingborg, is the work of psychologist Dr Samuel West, a 44-year-old Californian who used to research how to make big companies more innovative.
“I was looking for a new way to communicate research findings and stimulate a discussion and interest in the whole concept of learning from failure and I thought an exhibit would be a fun way to do that,” West says.

A visitor looks at a display on unsuccessful technological products, including the Twitter Peek, a handheld device that only supported Twitter, at the Museum of Failure exhibition./AFP

Launching in the summer of 2017 with support from the Swedish Innovation Fund, the exhibition is made up of items that West collected and that were donated to him by visitors.
A steady stream of visitors stop by the case housing “Trump: The Game”, where players trade real estate under the watchful eye of the game’s namesake, rolling dice on which the number six has been replaced by a “T” because “Trump always wins,” West explains. 
Players handle sums of money no smaller than $10 million (Bt330 million) – “because everyone’s a millionaire in Trump world”.At the exhibition’s entrance, a spooky plastic mask gazes out at visitors from inside a case – a beauty product released by a US company in the 1990s that was supposed to reduce wrinkles with electricity.
Bemused members of the public look at a Swedish bicycle released in 1981 built from plastic that turned out not to be sturdy enough to support its rider, as well as Heinz’s Green Ketchup and Coca-Cola’s coffee-flavoured drink, the Coke BlaK.

Components of “Trump  the Game”, a boardgame themed around Donald Trumps’s real estate business, originally released in 1989 and then again in 1990, on display at the Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden. /AFP

Having chanced upon the museum after visiting a photography exhibition on another floor, one visitor from France found West’s collection of unlikely innovations uplifting.
“I think you have to try everything,” says Claudine Cochet, a photographer from near Paris.
“You have to try and after you can talk it over.”
The Museum has turned out to be an unexpected hit for curator West, with visiting exhibits in Los Angeles and Toronto.
West’s success in celebrating unsuccessful innovations has brought him fame in the seaside town where he started out, as he found out one morning when he went to get breakfast at a nearby cafe.
“These people come in and shout ‘Hey! It’s Doctor Failure!’” he laughs. “It’s cool. Someone’s got to be Doctor Failure.”
The Museum of Failure was upping sticks to move to Shanghai after closing in Sweden on Saturday.

Published : January 11, 2019

By : Agence France-Presse Helsingborg, Sweden