John Preble, a Louisiana painter, has picked up just about every rock, bottle, and license plate he has passed. Inspired by the Tinkertown Museum in New Mexico, he put it all together in the Abita Mystery House, also known as the UCM Museum. Pronounced “you-see-em-mu-se-um”, the name stands for Unusual Collections and Mini-town.
Just outside of New Orleans, it is a roadside attraction and folk art environment with thousands of found objects and home-made inventions. A rambling place spread over a number of buildings, one enters UCM through an old Standard Oil Gas Station on their way to see art cars, an old creole cottage, and a house covered in mosaic tiles, each one stuffed with a different collection. The exhibits range from a comb collection to arcade machines to Darrell: the half-alligator half-dog dogigator.
There are also miniature towns with push-buttons that activate animated displays such as the “jazz funeral” display and “Lil Bubs BBQ.” The exhibits are eclectic, and range from the truly amazing to pure junk. There even a cave and a trailer that was “hit” by a flying saucer shown under the title “UFO vs. Airstream.”
As the museum explains, “If you have 3 or more, it’s a collection. A museum has over 3 collections.” The museum also boasts a gift shop full of the jewelery and wares of local artists. In case the entry price of $3 is too rich for your blood, a $1 off coupon is available on the website.
We explored the Abita Mystery House on Obscura Day - March 20th, 2010. Photos, stories and more here