Sometimes, the smallest places hold the world’s most wondrous, and quirky, attractions. The Donalda Lamp Museum in Alberta, Canada is no exception. Sitting in a town of just 219 people, the wonderfully specific museum boasts world’s largest collection of lamps.
With a total of 900 lamps, the museum is home to four times as many lamps as there are people in Donalda. Many of the lamps date back to the 1600s, although most come from the 18th and 19th centuries. They come in almost every style imaginable, from Aladdin parlor lamps to tiny nightlight lamps. There are darkroom photography lamps, theatre drape lamps, lamps once fixed to the sides of Model T’s, and lamps used in World War II.
Just outside of the museum is the most spectacular lamp of them all: a 42-foot-tall oil lamp, the largest oil lamp in the world. Lighting up every dusk, the giant lamp was first lit on July 1, 2000 as a Millennium Project to usher in the 21st century. It’s a defining monument in the town and can be seen for miles across the coulee.
The idea for a lamp collection originated from the kerosene oil lamps that were used in town starting in the 1850s and lasted until the mid-1900s, when they became practically useless with the spread of the electric lamp. These unused kerosene lamps were collected by Don and Beth Larson, the current owners of the museum, who donated their entire collection to the public.
Although the lamp collection is primarily a form of entertainment, it may also serve a practical purpose. If Donalda ever experiences a major power outage, there will be at least 900 backup sources of light to tide the town over.