Frequently when you hear about a revolutionary new product idea, it’s usually something great with the potential to benefit all of humanity. Television, penicillin, the iPod; the introduction of these inventions into our world helped make it the better place that is today.

But what about all of the failed inventions – the ones that should have never seen the light of day? Well, we certainly never hear about those.

Dr. Samuel West, a psychologist with a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology, wondered the same thing. After hearing innovation after innovation on the news, he got sick of all the success stories and searched high and low to collect all the failures.

YouTube video

To put it simply, The Museum of Failure is a traveling exhibition of the world’s worst ideas. From the computer-looking teleguide (it lets you search for phone numbers and call them using the built-in telephone) to the Itera plastic bicycle (which was double the price of a normal bike and half as sturdy), all the way to an electric facial mask that shocks a wearer’s face in an effort to look younger, the museum is filled with numerous failed wonders from different eras in human history.

museum of failure
museum of failure
museum of failure

Dr. West’s aim isn’t to shame the creators, but to let visitors know that it’s okay to share failure. As our day-to-day reality is filled with successes, it’s the failures that can help us learn from mistakes and do better. By sharing the errors of the past, he hopes to incite discussions about the world of innovation—and how things are rarely ever “right” the first time around.

The Museum is currently on exhibit in the Shanghai No.1 Center in China until March 17, at which point its next destination will be Munich, Germany (no word yet on the specific location). You can find more info on this traveling circus of inanimate failure on the Museum of Failure webpage.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.