Started by a retired master plumber, Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum is an ever-growing collection of artfully decorated bathroom castoffs that show off the more whimsical side of a notoriously dirty fixture.
Covering every inch of the museum’s walls and even hanging from the rafters are toilet seats and lids decorated with all manner of mixed media (save fecal matter, thankfully). Smith was inspired by his father (also a master plumber) who had a penchant for mounting plaques and trophies. Smith noticed a similarity between the mounting boards and the toilet seats he worked with every day, and soon began collecting used seats that he would then paint or adorn with bright trinkets. Working in his garage, the space filled up over the years with his creations and once the local media caught on to his idiosyncratic arts, the attention was great enough that Smith decided to open it as a “museum” to anyone who wanted to take a look at his toilet seats.
The gracious and welcoming Smith is happy to show off his garage collection to anyone interested enough to drop by. He even encourages visitors to bring in their own toilet seats since he prolific enough to always be running out. If someone does bring in a seat that he ends up using, Smith will engrave the donator’s name on the seat so that future generations will know where it came from.
Smith is getting on in the years, but unlike many outsider artists, he has taken measures to preserve his artistic collection. Not only has his daughter agreed to look after the works when he passes, but the Bemis Company, one of the leading manufacturers of toilet seats has said that they would like to move the entire collection into their headquarters.