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Hartford, Vermont

Main Street Museum

Taxonomy experiment known for quirky collections. 

Founded in 1992 in an area of Vermont known as “The Old South End,” the Main Street Museum of White River Junction is an experiment in new taxonomy known for its eclectic display space for material culture.

First conceived as an “alternative museum,” the museum as it exists in its present form has proven to be fairly mainstream at least in how it can attract a not insignificant audience. That said, it’s still a quirky collection. Categories of items on display include flora, fauna, evidence of tramps, round things, tangled things, sheet music, journals, electromagnetic devices, Elvis impersonators, postcard collections, taxidermy and biological anomalies, which counts dehydrated cats among its holdings.

The collections are so strange and quirky because the Main Street Museum was inspired by 18th century cabinets of curiosities. The unfocused and wide-ranging collections have been described as the museum’s most charming feature; they give Main Street a nontraditional and eclectic ambiance.

The museum is also known for adapting to new and changing technology. The Main Street Museum’s curators catalog their collections and conduct online activity on a Wiki-style website that is open to everyone. While it hasn’t been confirmed, Main Street believes it was the first museum with a functioning blog, which launched in September 2005.