Well-curated and courageously silly, Austria’s Nonseum is devoted to treating the nonsensical with the same adoration that is afforded to the classical.
Opened in 1994 by a group calling themselves the “Verein zur Verwertung von Gedankenüberschüssen” or “Association for the Recycling of Surplus Thoughts” in English (roughly), the small museum delights in collecting inventions and pieces of art ranging from the self-defeating to puns made manifest. Among the useless items on display are a cigarette with a filter on each end, rounded scissors for faster haircuts, “eye glasses” which are simply small glasses with eyeballs in them, a kettle with the handle arching over the spout, and a hat which opens at the top to let wearers cool their heads off. Despite the strict devotion to the unusual, the museum itself is presented as a clean and modern exhibition, with each item displayed with a neat placard stating its intended (and intentionally goofy) use.
The ARST (or VVG) have a stated devotion to immature, underrated, and bizarre thoughts and the Nonseum’s lovingly restored collection of what most people would consider junk or disposable gags shows this respect for nonsense. The group’s mission to leave a smile on the face of every person unto the end of the Earth is off to a good, if ironically useless start.