The Smallest Museums and Galleries in the World

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We are completely enamored with small spaces, which is why we’ve explored tiny houses, slender buildings, delightful dwellings on micro islands, and more. After reading an interview with Alex Kalman, co-founder of alleyway institution Museum (located inside an abandoned freight elevator), we went searching for more of the smallest art and culture spaces the world has to offer. These museums and galleries are minuscule, but contain big ideas and fascinating finds. Visit some of the greatest compact cultural institutions in the world, below.

Photo credit: Naho Kubota

Photo credit: Naho Kubota

The newest incarnation of the generically-titled Museum includes “personal ephemera from Al Goldstein, the rocks and tools from Tom Sach’s Mars expedition, objects made for prisoners or by prisoners in US prisons, fake vomit from around the world, tip jars collected by Jim Walrod, surf and turf potato chips, and more.” The strange assemblage of objects from around the world are displayed along a Lower Manhattan alley, inside an abandoned freight elevator. “For us, Museum was about creating an institution that celebrates the extraordinariness of the seemingly ordinary,” co-founder Alex Kalman related in a new interview with Collectors Weekly.

Filip Noterdaeme is the director of the mobile Homeless Museum of Art, which basically consists of a lemonade stand-style booth and a small collection of objects. A stuffed coyote named Florence, who also acts as Director of Public Relations, guards the tiny operation. Noterdaeme wants to make it clear that HoMU is not an anthropological museum about the homeless. Instead, he sees it as “a legitimate cultural institution to articulate a dual critique of the cultural institution as enterprise and the cult of the artist as shaman,” which is “inspired by the artist’s increasing identification with the homeless as individuals who have fallen through the cracks of a very loosely knit, Darwinian society.”

Photo credit: Muu-karhu

French avant-garde composer Erik Satie spent the majority of his final years holed up in a one-room apartment where he never received visitors. After Satie’s death, it became home to what was once described as a “cupboard” museum. The Musée-Placard d’Erik Satie housed various personal objects, paintings, and manuscripts by the artist — who owned two pianos (he balanced one on top of the other), hundreds of umbrellas, and an original Man Ray sculpture. Sadly, the museum closed in 2008, but the eccentric hole in the wall is still talked about by travelers the world over.

Welcome to the Ethno Museum in the village of Džepčište in Macedonia. Capacity: one. Collector Simeon Zlatev-Mone offers 1,150 objects for your viewing pleasure — most of them centered on local history, with some artifacts dating back 8,000 years. Next time you find yourself in the Šar Mountains region, pop over and pay Zlatev-Mone a visit. He’s probably dying for a little company since the village is home to only 4,200 inhabitants.

Edgar’s Closet in Tuscaloosa, Alabama promises what it advertises: a walk-in closet-cum-museum dedicated to the one true goth, Edgar Allan Poe. Located inside room 208 at the University Place School, the 22-square-foot exhibition space features over 1,000 Poe-tastical objects. It receives outside visitors, but it’s a favorite attraction for the school’s students. In 2011, a nasty tornado swept through the area putting Edgar’s Closet out of commission. Head to their official website to find out how you can help resurrect the small space, recognized by the World’s Record Association for its petite stature.

Mylumi is the maker of the Zeitgeist Clock, which claims to be the smallest art house in the world. The minuscule “museum” contains limited edition, small-scale artworks that flip to change every minute. There are over 1,440 combinations and nearly 100 artworks in some models. The emphasis seems to be on design and typography, and prices wildly vary (up to $1,000 for some models).

There’s a miniature Ramones museum located in a seaside suburb of Dublin, inside… a Mexican restaurant. Lifelong devotee and owner Colin Ring started it as a way to get his collection out of the house and in front of the adoring eyes of fellow fans. He describes it as “exactly the kind of restaurant [he’d] visit if [he] didn’t own [the] restaurant” and believes “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” changed his life. We clearly need tickets to Dublin.

Gallery One2fifty is the most meta art space you’re likely to stumble across. Frustrated that his large-scale photographs (generally nine feet long) were losing their wow factor when displayed online, artist David Anthony Hall decided to make his own gallery. He created a 1:50-scale space, stuck a tiny version of his photos in it, and placed one-inch tall figures around his 3-D model. This gave viewers a better sense of the scale of his work. You can visit Gallery One2fifty over here.

Contemporary gallery Microdot in Belfast is a “uniquely challenging” art space, stretching a mere 55 square feet. Visitors can view the display the same way they would window-shop: through glass, from the outside. Microdot’s owners call it a concept space and welcome experimental work. Their first exhibition consisted of a single piece by Lusky.

The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things is a traveling roadside attraction and museum. Artist Erika Nelson displays the collection inside a converted bus. There, she boasts miniature replicas of everything from massive balls of twine, to gigantic animals, and more. Nelson believes her humble, mobile collection helps increase tourism, and marketing and economic development in various cities.