Remember Google Glass or Crystal Pepsi? What happens to all the hyped-up inventions and tech breakthroughs that suddenly disappear without a trace? These and over 150 more failed innovations are now on public display at “Museum of Failure,” a touring exhibition that opened at Industry City in Brooklyn on March 17, after landing in cities including Calgary, Paris, Los Angeles, and Shanghai.
Among the once cutting-edge objects that visitors can expect to see are a handheld vinyl record player, the Hawaii exercise chair, Apple’s personal digital assistant Newton, the zero calorie fat substitute Olestra, self-destructing disposable DVDs, and several wannabe smartphones, including Twitter Peek, Microsoft Kin, and Amazon Fire Phone. Other bizarre famous flops include Trump steaks, Atari’s video game, Coke II, Bic’s pink pens for women, and a frozen beef lasagna by Colgate.
Samuel West, who first founded the museum in Sweden in 2017 with items he collected from eBay, is a psychologist specializing in corporate behavior and hopes the exhibition’s stroll down memory lane won’t just amuse audiences but also serve as a reminder that failure is a normal part of progress and there is always a lesson to learn.
For example, the TeleGuides used in Sweden during the early 1990s are now remembered as an early version of the internet while the Nokia N-Gage or “Taco Phone” was short-lived but successfully preempted the mobile gaming industry.
“The main message that I want to convey with the museum is that it’s okay to share your inadequacies, your failures, your stupid questions, your unrefined ideas without being negatively judged,” he has said. “We need to accept failure.”
Preview a selection of historical fails from the collection below.