The Material Museum
If you happen to be traveling anywhere near Cleveland, Ohio this summer, you’re going to want to set aside at least a day or two to enjoy the marvels of that newly-opened mecca of manufactured surfaces, The Material Museum.
This eclectic wonder is perched on a gentle brow overlooking a stretch of reclaimed Lake Erie shoreline in the city’s Gordon Park recreational area (not far from where the bright white Nike missile launchers were once pointed over the Great Lakes toward belligerent Communist U.S.S.R. in the late 1950s). Park the family SUV in any of the readily accessible lots of the Cleveland Lakefront State Park, then wander along the tree-lined paths toward the water, until the unmistakable profile of the Museum’s main gallery break’s the Lake horizon. Admission to the Museum — which is open 24/7 every single day of the year — is $9 per person, but is reduced to just $0.50 per person, if that person should happen to donate a piece of totally new and different material to the Museum (at least two feet square, please).
The Material Museum was created by self-taught (isn’t it obvious?) architect, Maurice Corbusier Loquacious IV, who also happens to be the Museum’s full-time attendant, docent, curator, archivist, marketing director, publicist and chief administrator. (He also happens to be its full-time interior designer, receptionist, clerk, security guard, parking attendant, and maintenance man, so you can leave any donated material samples with Maurice. Just look for the exceedingly scrawny and pale dude with the weird haircut and hideous bow tie.)
This one-of-a-kind Museum offers the world’s only hands-on resource for architects, interior designers, builders, tradesman, steelworkers, crafters, masons, woodworkers, glaziers, roofers, tilers, carpenters, painters, birdhousers, decorators, miniaturists, nothing-to-do retirees, and fussy homebodies that would otherwise be spending endless Saturdays blowing their bankroll at the local Home Depot or Restoration Hardware.
Be sure to visit the Bubble-Wrap Room and its complete collection of packing materials, from foam peanuts to shredded newsprint to inflated polyethylene. Stop in at Macramé Grotto, where you’ll find things you never envisioned, woven of fibers you never imagined existed (a lava lamp pendant stitched of Himalayan yak hair? Donated by a member of The Grateful Dead, no less?).
Need to work off some stress? Spend some time in the Mason’s Lodge, laying up a cinderblock wall, then knocking it down again. Or spend your entire day planing down one simple piece of wood. For a mid-day treat, bring the kids to Windows on the Lake, the all-glass buffeteria! You’ll dine and drink from glassware, while seated on glass tables and chairs, surrounded by mirrors and aquaria, while enjoying 360-degree vistas of the surrounding landscape and the Museum (including the floors above and below).
One of the more popular exhibits — at least among families of civil servants and conspiracy theorists — is the Bridge to Nowhere Pavilion, filled with full-size replicas of some of the greatest government boondoggle buildings of the past: President Nixon’s Yorba Linda underground, anti-radiation bunker; the balcony of Ted Stevens’ notorious pine-log home in Girdwood; the Pahrump, Nevada motel room of the alleged Kennedy-Monroe tryst; and the sand-and-rock-filled blacked-out warehouse used in the filming of all those ‘Moon landings’.
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