News Archive

Museum of Bad Art: an unparalleled museum of weird paintings

Museum of Bad Art: an unparalleled museum of weird paintings

There are many unique interesting sights in the world, and if world-famous museums are designed to delight and delight visitors, then some of them, on the contrary, cause surprise, bewilderment or shock.

A special place among them is occupied by the outrageous and intriguing American private museum - the Museum of Bad Art, MOBA, the only museum in the world that exhibits the ridiculous and tasteless works of the authors. Its main purpose is to “commemorate the work of artists whose extraordinary work has not been recognized”.


Three branches of the Museum of Bad Art, located in Deden (a suburb in northwest Boston), Somerville (a suburb in north Boston) and Brookline (Massachusetts) with a permanent collection of over 500 art objects.

History of creation - in 1994, antiquary Scott Wilson found a strange painting “Lucy in a field of flowers” in a trash can in Boston, and showed it to his friends. They jokingly offered to continue collecting bad exhibits, to which Wilson, thinking, decided to continue searching for non-standard samples. In March 1994, antiquarian friend Jerry Reilly and his wife organized an exhibition at their home called “Opening a Museum of Bad Art”, presenting some of the “masterpieces” to the public. The show of the collection gained scandalous popularity and became a regular. The problem of limited space was solved by the creation of a “virtual museum”, a CD-ROM with the works of 95 artists.


In 1995, exhibitions of universal formats were opened in the basement of the Dedem Amateur Theater: for example, works hung directly on the trees in the Cape Cod Forest “Art from the Window - Gallery in the Forest”; 18 exhibits were covered in shrink-wrap for “the world's first supervised vehicle museum and car wash” in an exhibition called “Flooded Bad Art”.

In 2008, a second gallery opened at the Somerville Theater in Massachusetts, which included exhibitions: “Bright Colors / Dark Emotions”, “Know What You Like / Write (on Canvas) How You Feel”.

Criteria for selection of exhibits - all works are subject to strict selection, must be original, have significant flaws and be “bad enough”. And also - expressive, not boring and reflect the unsuccessful attempts of their experiment.


The museum's collection is a tribute to the sincerity of artists who strived for perfection, the ideal in their paintings, which are evidence of the enthusiasm of the artists, but in the end, they got a terrible reality.

Most of the paintings were donated by the authors themselves, saved from oblivion by the Cambridge Garbage Collectors' Union, or purchased from auctions and charity shops.

The main common features identified by Cash Peters in his book in evaluating the exhibits: the inability of the authors to correctly draw body parts, the mismatch of colors in the depiction of flora and fauna, the use of “mixed media” by artists: gluing sparkles, feathers or hair onto a picture if there is doubt about it quality and others.


Unique exhibits of the collection – “Lucy in a field with flowers” (oil on canvas, work by an unknown author) - a landmark painting, which depicts a portrait of an elderly woman dancing in the center of a spring field of flowers. She sits on a red chair with a bouquet of daisies in her hand, under the vaults of a yellow sky.


“George on a Chamber Pot on a Sunday Afternoon” (acrylic on canvas, unknown artist, donated by Jim Shulman) is an impressionist pointillist painting similar to that of Georges Seurat, depicting a large man wearing “Y” underwear, sitting on a potty. The prototype of the painting was allegedly former US Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Interesting facts:

  • Since the end of 2008, signatures and titles for works can be created by visitors themselves;
  • Staff and tourists have the opportunity to laugh out loud in the museum, as many of the works cause “unintentional fun”;
  • Museum purchases paintings at auctions in the amount of 6,50 USD - no more, but if the work is exceptional, they can spend up to 20 USD;
  • The scandalous popularity of the museum has led to the fact that information about it is placed in various collections, guides and guides for tourists with an extraordinary motto “art is too bad to be ignored”;
  • The museum has inspired similar collections in Ohio, Seattle, and Australia; and members of the Minneapolis theater company Commedia Beauregard wrote one-act plays based on their favorite works.


Also read:

To leave a comment, log in or register
Related Publications