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Helsingborg, Sweden

Museum of Failure

From Coke II to Google Glass, this exhibit features some of the most spectacular commercial flops. 

The Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden, might sound like it houses the most depressing collection ever. But it is actually meant to inspire.

Founded by organizational psychologist Dr. Samuel West, the museum exhibits corporate products like Google Glass and Sony Betamax that totally flopped, yet represent a willingness to take risks. The way West sees it, successes are well known and celebrated by publicity departments, but the failures that come along the road to success are also important and worth recognizing. 

The effort that went into Apple’s Newton device, the company’s answer to the Palm Pilot, paved the way for the iPhone and iPad later on. When Coke II was introduced in 1984, it was so disliked and drove so many people back to the original Coke that Coke started outselling Pepsi in 1985.

Some of the items on display represent the end of an era. The DVD case from Blockbuster will remind visitors of trips to the video store before streaming took over. And while the Eastman Kodak Company was once a soaring pioneer in the world of photography, the DC40 digital camera on display is a reminder that it didn’t embrace digital photography quite fast enough.

There’s also a Segway, a device with little purpose other than to check tweets on the go (and the screen wasn’t big enough to display 140 characters), a frozen dinner marketed by a toothpaste company, and President Donald Trump’s version of Monopoly from 1989.

The Museum of Failure started with West’s fascination with the psychology of failure, leading him to seek out and buy many of the unsuccessful items that would later make up this exhibit. Earlier this year, in January, he brought six of the flops to a conference in London, where his booth proved quite popular. He started working on the standalone museum with financial help from a Swedish innovation agency called Vinnova.

All in all, there are more than 60 failed attempts at the big time on display at the Museum of Failure, which officially opens June 7, 2017.

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