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Museum of Failure opens at Mall of America, featuring more than 130 botched inventions and products

The exhibit opens on Friday Nov. 5 and will stay at the Mall of America until Jan. 9.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — There's a new kind of museum coming to the Mall of America.

It's one filled with dozens of inventions that some may call failures.

The Museum of Failure opens Friday Nov. 5 and it features more than 130 inventions and products that didn’t pan out.

The exhibit will stay at the Mall of America until Jan. 9.

Before this latest stop in Minnesota the museum also made stops in China, Sweden, Los Angeles and a few others.

Gordon Severson sat down with the museum’s curator Dr. Samuel West, a licensed psychologist, who came up with the idea for the museum.

GORDON: What is the Museum of Failure all about?

WEST: The museum of failure is all about taking these failures, putting them on a pedestal and shining a light on them and saying let’s not sweep the failures under the carpet, let’s learn from them.

GORDON: Because to figure out what does work, you have to figure out what doesn’t work?

WEST: Our society stigmatizes failure. If you tell someone you’re a failure that’s a bad thing and we need to change that.

GORDON: How did this whole idea come about?

WEST: I got so tired of all of these shiny happy success stories. You know? The shiny, rich, good looking, entrepreneur on stage and saying, ‘oh I was in a garage and then this happened and now I’m in a billionaire.’ You know, we’re force-fed this narrative of success and we’re forgetting to shine some light on how do you get there and the way you get there is by failing a lot.

GORDON: Is part of your motivation that you’ve had a failure in your past?

WEST: Partially, um, we all fail at times. One of those failures I guess was in the beginning of this museum. I was so excited when I got this idea to have a museum of failure that I went out and bought the domain, “MuseumOfFailure.com,” and I was like ‘yeah, I’m a genius.’ Then I looked at the invoice and it said ‘congratulations, you own ‘MusumOfFailure.com.’ I’m the only museum curator who can’t spell the word museum correctly.

GORDON: What do you want people to take away when they come here and see these exhibits?

WEST: It’s okay to fail. We overestimate how horrible it is. If you fail at something, so what? The worst thing is if you don’t learn from that failure, then that’s a wasted opportunity. A lot of innovation and success stories come from previous failures and we need to celebrate that.