Herald and Journal
Herald & Journal, January 11, 1999

Please, don't squeeze museum artifacts


I find this hard to believe, but they tell me it's true. I've already told you in this column about the Hamburger Hall of Fame in Seymour, Wis. It is my belief that Wisconsin is loaded with museums and halls of fame for the unusual ­ I give you a one of a kind museum.

In a cramped living room of a typically run-down, college-student kind of an apartment, just blocks away from the Capitol building in Madison is a museum that's most likely one of a kind.

It's the Madison Museum of Bathroom Tissue.

Really . . . honest . . . I kid you not.

And it's there that you'll find thousands of rolls of toilet paper, two ply, single ply, quilted, non-quilted, you name it.

You'd think one of the paper manufacturers would be the instigator of this museum. Or the result of some university grad students final thesis that got out of hand.

Here's how this unique collection started. About six years ago in a tavern in Lodi, Wis., a woman jokingly told an employee that she had no toilet paper at home. The employee, who was stocking the restroom at the time, donated a roll to the cause. From that moment, museum "curator" Carol Korb has collected rolls of toilet paper (TP) from places she has visited. They're stacked on shelving encircling her living room.

Since that fateful day in Lodi, friends and strangers have sent her or presented to her toilet tissue from around the world. Upon each roll is written the place and date it was collected. You can get an audio tour or a personal one by a "guide."

There's a shelf of European tissue and one for rolls from Mexico. There's tissue from taverns across the country. You can check to see if you recognize some of the places.

The museum people are especially proud of a collection of rolls from Graceland, Elvis Presley's home. Well, actually the rolls are from the tourist center there. But hey, it's entirely possible that Elvis may have used, at one time in his life, the restrooms from which the paper was obtained.

There's a "Roll of the Week" and a section for new acquisitions and a brief history of toilet paper, including examples chronicling the evolution from grass and leaves to the Sears catalog to present day bathroom tissue.

Have I seen it personally? No, I read about it in the newspaper, so it has to be true, doesn't it? I've been to Madison several times, but don't have the time for a side trip to the TP museum. But if you are ever in Madison, you might consider a stop there. I don't really know if they have a public restroom there.

I have since heard that there is a toilet museum in Kohler, Wis. The Kohler company, who has been making toilets and other plumbing fixtures for years, have the museum.

I've also heard that the dairy magazine, Hoards Dairyman, have a dairy museum in Jefferson, Wis. I tell you, this state is loaded with museums and hall of fames.

Wouldn't an outhouse museum be interesting? Bet there is one somewhere, probably in Wisconsin.

Flash! I just heard about a two-story outhouse that's become a tourist attraction in Illinois. Further details here next month. Stay tuned.

A penny saved . . . is not a lot.

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