Friday, September 18, 2015

One Man's Museum in a Mega Mall

About a decade ago, 3 girls drove up to Interlochen in Northern Michigan to see their favorite band (Guster). Upon arriving, they asked, "Who are these kids that they've got opening up the show?" But by the end of the opener, they were enamored with the kids in their silly, matching colored ties.

The "kids" were actually Tally Hall, a band out of Ann Arbor. Well read college students with a vast vocabulary and a knack for witty lyrics. Their first album was called Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, and it's based on a place that several of the band's founding members used to hang out at as teenagers.
Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum is in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and it is one of the World Almanac's 100 most unusual museums in the US. Owner Marvin Yagoda began collecting games and oddities in the 1960s and opened MMMM in 1990.

I'm sure you've realized (if you know me at all) that it became a personal mission to find this place. And ten years later, after a couple failed attempts, I made it there!

I was surprised to find that the place has a large mall built around it — If it wasn't for the Marvelous entrance, it would be completely eclipsed by California Pizza Kitchen and Buy Buy Baby.*

The place is small. And it is CRAMMED full of games, every inch, representing decades, and centuries — I actually got to use a view finder from the 1890s. It was loud, and I experienced sensory overload, but it was mesmerizing, and nostalgic, and fascinating.

It wasn't as I expected, it wasn't quiet like a museum. And there was no absent-minded man behind the counter distributing quarters and telling us about the games. The place was full of life and kids (of all ages)  playing and loving these old games. Everything from Pinball to Skeeball to Fortune Tellers and a Chicken that plays tic-tac-toe!
It was Sunday afternoon, and it was really crowded, but I liked seeing parents sharing these treasures with their kids.  I'd really like to go back when it's less crowded and I can  look around thoroughly. There's enough to see and do that it's worth a second trip.

I really hope, that when Marvin retires he has a passionate prodigy that can keep operating the museum as the beloved spectacle that it is!

*Back in the '90s I understand it was a simple stripmall, not the commercial mecca it is now. 

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