When Jim Somoza visited the Museum of Failure in Brooklyn, he was surprised to see some familiar items from his childhood.
There was the lawn game Jarts, a set of metal-tipped darts that his parents gave him and his siblings to play with. There was also the hula chair, a machine that promised to tone the abs while sitting down.
“I remember how ridiculous it was,” he said. “It made you feel like you were on a boat.”
Mr. Somoza, the managing director of Industry City, a complex of warehouses and offices in Sunset Park, said he was drawn to the museum because it resonated with his own experience of taking risks and learning from failures.
The Museum of Failure is a traveling exhibit that features more than 100 failed products and services from some of the world’s best-known companies, such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Ford and more. The exhibit opened in New York on March 17 and will run until May 14, with a possible extension into June.
The museum’s founder and curator, Samuel West, is a Swedish psychologist and researcher who studies innovation and failure. He said he started the museum in 2017 after growing “fed up of success stories” and wanted to show the importance of accepting and learning from failure.
“A failure is when your efforts don’t lead to the expected or desired results,” he said. “But they’re a fantastic opportunity to learn.”
The museum showcases how even the most successful businesses can make mistakes – and how those mistakes can lead to new opportunities. Some examples of the items on display are:
- Apple Newton, a personal digital assistant that was launched in 1993 and discontinued in 1998 due to poor handwriting recognition and high price.
- Coke II, a reformulated version of Coca-Cola that was introduced in 1985 and withdrawn in 2002 after consumer backlash.
- Google Glass, a brand of smart glasses that was released in 2013 and suspended in 2015 due to privacy concerns and lack of usefulness.
- Kodak DC-40, a digital camera that was launched in 1995 and failed to compete with other brands due to its low resolution and high cost.
- Trump: The Game, a Monopoly-style board game that was released in 1989 and flopped due to its complexity and boredom.
The museum also features some obscure and bizarre failures, such as Harley-Davidson perfume, Colgate frozen dinners, Rejuvenique electric facial mask and Bic for Her pens.
Mr. West said he hopes the museum will inspire visitors to embrace failure as a part of innovation and creativity.
“We need to change our attitude towards failure,” he said. “We need to celebrate it more.”
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