Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff – Portsmouth, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura
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Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff

This small museum is an eccentric shrine to boyhood in the 1960s. 

Tucked away in the basement of a residential home is the Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff. But you don’t have to be a guy to enjoy it. The museum is curated by Clayton Emery, a writer and collector. It isn’t your typical museum—it’s more chummy clubhouse than stuffy institution.

In the center of the room is a working train set to scale of a 1959 Dover, New Hampshire, train yard and town, all historically accurate. The train set belongs to a man named Rodney, who Emery met at the dog park. Rodney constructed most of the items by hand, including a cover bridge with a car inside whose lights go on.

The surrounding walls are lined with hand-built displays, including a western town featuring out-of-the-box collectibles such as Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, and Doc Holliday. Then it gets interesting as Emery has added a number of characters to the set using other figures modified to fit his vision. Lara Croft is dressed as a Swedish mail-order bride, General Omar Bradley is a storekeeper, Sean Connery appears as an undertaker, and Barbie dolls are given a second life as Saloon Hall dance girls, among others.

One wall is dedicated to the colorful members of the DC Universe, The Legion of Superheroes and Marvel Legends. Emery has taken his old ‘60s action figures and converted them into models by cutting them apart, setting them in an interesting pose, gaped with putty, and then dressing them, using an infinite number of materials such as coffee filters, t-shirt material, and various other doodads. You’ll find The Thing, Sandman, Ironman, Ragman, Supergirl, Hulk, Thor, Blue Frost Giant, and a number of smaller dioramas. Look closely and you’ll see a figure of Emery, his wife, and his son as part of the scene’s backdrop.

The majority of other displays are devoted to the incomparable G.I. Joe. Emery’s displays feature a mix of old and newer Joes. He purchases his Joes (mostly in distressed condition) from sources like eBay and brings them back to their original glory, then sets them in historically accurate settings. (Ask about the Louisville Slugger Bat.) He also encourages people to bring in their old G.I. Joes to add to the collection. If you play your cards right, you may just find yourself immortalized as a gunner’s mate in the Joe you leave behind.

Know Before You Go

This is more a labor of love than a business. Hours are 10:00 to 4:00, but not set in stone, so sometimes it just requires luck. An internet search engine won't help you find it, as it has no website.

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