When a small watch museum opened recently in the garage of a house just a couple of blocks from where I live in a quiet tree lined suburb, my first thought was ‘why in the world would anyone open a watch museum?’

But that was before I read Hunter Davies book ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans.’

Turns out that opening a ‘hobby‘ museum’ is pretty commonplace, with more and more collectors coming out of the closet, so to speak, and showcasing their collections to the public in privately owned museums.

An avid collector himself, Hunter Davies, a British author, journalist, and broadcaster probably best known for having written the only authorised biography of The Beatles, spent months traipsed around Britain searching for Britain’s most oddball and bizarre single topic museums.

Meeting with the collectors and curators of these museums, Davies sought to discover how they evolved from dream to reality, all the while mulling over the idea of opening his own museum to showcase his own collections.

The resulting book, Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans, focuses on 18 of these museums, each of which features a truly oddball collection ranging from lawnmowers to baked beans, from pencils to packaging, from Laurel and Hardy to Cars of the Stars.

Davies, however, has only really scratched the surface of the various ‘mad’ museums out there.

Who knows,  there might even be one hidden in plain sight in your neighbourhood.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.