R/S: Do you collect contemporary objects—the collectibles of the future?
MICKEY MCGOWAN: I have to admit the ’80s haven’t been as rewarding as previous decades. I’ve acquired a few yuppie objects, but right now I’m focusing on ’70s artifacts like the pet rock, Farrah Fawcett memorabilia, Dukes of Hazzard mugs, and things related to car chase programs like Starsky & Hutch. From the ’80s I’ve collected Cabbage Patch Kids, Masters of the Universe memorabilia, and Garbage Pail Kids bubble gum cards. Anything from the year I was born to the present day is fair game. I try not to go beyond those years; there’s no “antiques” here.
Endless vistas of memory unfold as you walk through the Museum. The kitchen alone reveals the fantasy heroes of the food empires: Bob’s Big Boy, the Kentucky Colonel, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Mister Potato Head, Davy Crockett—all the icons that have been put on food items, lunch pails, thermos bottles and serving trays. The only contemporary items are paper cups with the straws and the lids from Round Table Pizza and other fast-food joints. In the future those will be important and revealing—as well as any form of hamburger packaging. The museum is a mirror held up to the last four decades of American history; it’s there to reflect back your life.
The Museum is very popular with teenagers, many of whom are experts on the Brady Bunch—they know more about them than most people who lived through the ’60s. In this day and age when everybody moves frequently and storage costs are astronomical, not everyone has been able to drag their heritage with them . . . except in one place [points to head] where the rent is free. The memory cells will always be there, and at any moment they can be stirred up and accessed by the proper cue and artwork. And that’s what I’m after: to stir up those thoughts . . .