It’s OK to fail at this museum

Featured image from the Museum of Failure

Remember eating a burger for lunch smothered with Heinz Green Sauce ketchup with a side of Fat-Free Pringles? Maybe you washed that down with a Crystal Pepsi or a Coca-Cola Blak.

Later, because you worked a long day and were too tired to cook dinner, you popped a box of Colgate Lasagne in the microwave. After dinner, you relaxed by listening to your Zune and playing a few games on your Apple Pippin.

Oh, you don’t remember?

It’s probably because none of these products succeeded.

Well, they’re back at the Museum of Failure, currently a traveling exhibit that celebrates failed products and services from some of the world’s best-known companies and the lessons learned from them. The 100-piece collection is on display in the Los Angeles Arts District at the A + D Architecture and Design Museum, 900 East 4th Street, through February 4.

The museum is an epic journey, for sure. There’s a hula chair, Harley-Davidson cologne for men, Google Glass, and Bic for Her. Yes, those are pens designed for women, because apparently we write differently than men.

Harley-Davidson Cologne for men (photo credit:

Even President Donald Trump joins the outcasts with his version of Monopoly called “Trump: I’m Back and You’re Fired” from 1989. In this case, he was fired.

Some products are still around but attracted an unintended market. Take the Segway, for example. That two-wheeled machine should have revolutionized the transportation industry. When I first saw them, police rode them on security details at airports. Now, tourists rent them by the hour.

And other products sparked revolutions in technology, like the Apple Newton personal digital assistant from 1993 that paved the way for iPhones and iPads. Now, millions of people around the world can’t live without their smartphones and tablets.

The Museum of Failure was founded by organizational psychologist Dr. Samuel West, who’s also an innovation researcher at Lund University in Sweden. He helps companies become more innovative and successful by learning from their failures.

Dr. West opened the museum in Helsingborg, Sweden, on June 7, 2017, with 60 pieces in the collection. He also started a tour with nine objects in Miami, Berlin, and Amsterdam. In December, the touring collection expanded and stopped at its current location in Los Angeles.

In the meantime, the Swedish museum closed, but Dr. West plans to reopen it in April at Dunkers Kulturhus in Helsingborg, Sweden. The museum will be located a short walk from the train station and the ferries from Denmark, and the exhibits will be presented in Swedish, English, and German.

When the museum reopens in Sweden, Dr. West hopes to add evening activities, and he posted some ideas on the Museum of Failure’s website: “How about a failed gourmet tasting menu at a fancy restaurant? Or a tasting of failed brews from regional microbreweries? Or a world-renowned classic pianist giving a concert of failed music? We welcome any further suggestions. The crazier the better…”

The DIVX, a disposable DVD that didn’t appeal to consumers (photo credit: NBC Left Field)

At the A + D Architecture and Design Museum, the Museum of Failure exhibit is open 2-6 p.m. Wednesday, 2-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, and noon-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. General admission tickets, which include entry to the exhibit, are $17.45 adults; $10.24 seniors 65 and older, veterans and military personnel, and A + D museum members; and free for children 12 and younger. Buy tickets online to avoid long lines at the museum.

For more information about the Museum of Failure exhibit in Los Angeles, visit this page.

Check updates about the Sweden Museum of Failure and future tour dates here.

Dr. West believes there’s a lesson in exploring these failures. “Innovation requires failure,” he says. “Learning is the only process that turns failure into success.”

Maybe that’s why McDonald’s hasn’t given up on its Arch Deluxe burger. The sandwich, designed to appeal to more sophisticated customers, flopped after a $200 million advertising campaign in the 1990s. But on January 3, 2018, Business Insider reported that McDonald’s started test marketing the Archburger, made from fresh beef, in seven restaurants in Oklahoma and Texas.

Will it succeed this time? Time and taste buds will tell.

Coca-Cola Blak, a coffee-flavored soft drink (photo credit:

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