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South Hadley, Massachusetts

Joseph Allen Skinner Museum

One philanthropist's extensive collection of knick-knacks and curiosities is now a public museum of oddity. 

Established in 1932 by silk magnate and philanthropist Joseph Allen Skinner, the museum that now carries his name displays the wide-ranging collection of curious that the man was able to accumulate in an effort to create some wonder through his oddities. 

Containing over 7,000 items accumulated by Skinner during his time in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Strict record keeping was not a priority at the museum so the origin of many of the items is nearly unknown, however, this actually works to give the collection an even greater air of mystery. Among the collection are such varied items as antique rifles, Native American artifacts, a rare coco-de-mare, ship models, lighting devices, early American kitchen implements, stuffed birds, and more and more. The Skinner Museum is a cacophony of curiosity unlike any other.

The collection is held in a church that used to be located in a nearby town, but Skinner had the 1800’s chapel moved to South Hadley just to contain his stuff. After Skinner passed away, the museum came under the care of Mount Holyoke College who maintains the collection to this day. Skinner may be gone, but his sense of wonder is alive and well.    

Know Before You Go

On route 116 just north of mount Holyoke college, located in a 19th century church building relocated from the town of Prescott, MA, one of the Lost Towns dismantled to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir. for information call 413/538-2245.

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