The Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Museum, Plus 3 Other Awesome Museums Run Out Of People's Homes
When comedians and roommates Matt Harkins and Viviana Rosales Olen sat down to watch a documentary about disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, they didn't expect to end up curating a museum dedicated to Harding and the infamous 1994 attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan that derailed her career. But now, several months later, their brainchild The Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum will have its gala grand opening this Saturday, April 18th, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Their homegrown museum contains historical and news memorabilia, fan art, photographs, dioramas of Harding's triple axel twirl, and a plethora of other materials telling the tale of the two skaters — well, as much of a plethora as you can fit inside the hallway of an apartment, anyway. Because Harkins and Olen skipped on shopping for gallery spaces, or selling investors on the idea of opening a museum dedicated to a 21-year-old sports scandal, and decided to open the museum in their house instead.
As Olen told Bustle, in our Netflix culture, "there are so few moments where we're all watching at the same time." After becoming obsessed by the Harding-Kerrigan story, Harkins was "frustrated that we weren't able to walk out into the world and find everyone talking about it."
Their museum — which can be visited only via private tour — is an attempt to take obsessive fandom off of the Internet, and bring it "into a physical space, where we can all talk about it," says Olen, and "connect with people." [We're going to] bring them out of the internet and really make a connection." Adds Harkins, "I think people get excited about something that is actually a thing."
If you'd like to get deep into some IRL fandom and can't make it to New York for the museum's gala, you can check out one of the three homemade museums below — each an expression of the curator's unique vision, each dedicated to an all-consuming obsession, and each way more interesting than spending a few more hours looking at Mean Girls GIFs on Tumblr (again).
1. The Lower East Side Troll Museum
Location: New York, NY
Iconic downtown New York artist, author, filmmaker, and self-described "patron saint of the uncool" Rev Jen Miller has operated this troll museum out of her apartment since 2000. Visitors to the Lower East Side dwelling-cum-art space can enjoy guided tours of Miller's vast collection of over 400 of the vintage troll dolls, as well as art depicting her troll doll collection, and various sundry items celebrating the beauty of the mundane. Miller's museum was recently in danger of being closed down due to rising rents, but was saved via a crowd-sourcing campaign that implored potential donors to keep her museum open to help keep New York City weird — because "if NYC were full of normal people, would anyone want to visit?"
How to Visit: Leave a voicemail at (212) 560-7235 to see more troll dolls in one place than you have ever seen before.
2. The Bunny Museum
Location: Pasadena, CA
Do you like bunnies? I mean, really like bunnies? No, I mean really, really like bunnies? Then I have a museum for you. The Bunny Museum has been open since 1998, giving bunny-philes the chance to check out the world's largest collection of bunny-related items — a 28,000 piece assortment of toys, furniture, games, toiletries (and five actual live bunnies) that was awarded the Guinness World Record for largest collection of rabbit-related items. Couple Steve Lubanski and Candace Frazee run the museum out of their southern California home, which their website notes has been visited by tourists from 46 different countries (and, as you can see in the above video, Elijah Wood).
How To Visit: Call (626) 798-8848 to get a record-holding number of bunnies involved in your next vacation.
3. The Rainbow Land Museum
Location: Apex, NC
If you were a little girl in the '80s, chances are that you adored Rainbow Brite, a cartoon superheroine who was in charge of all the colors in the universe, and wore some truly amazing proto-rave wear outfits. Well, Katy Cartee Haile was obsessed with Rainbow Brite, too, and began collecting character memorabilia in 1995; over the past 20 years, her collection has grown to include more the 1,500 items, and Haile turned a corner of her North Carolina home into a mini-museum, dubbed Rainbow Land Museum.
Visitors can check out Haile's artfully curated collection of toys, furnishings, costumes, and other items emblazoned with the rainbow one, and for those whose travels won't bring them near Apex, North Carolina, any time soon, Haile runs gorgeous Flickr and Instagram accounts of the museum that are guaranteed to make the second grader in you very, very jealous.
How To Visit: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to take a trip over the rainbow.