Erbenheim: Toilet museum is flush with humor
By KEVIN DOUGHERTY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 3, 2011
This museum isn’t for everybody, though everybody can relate because every body in this world with a heartbeat adheres to the same force of nature.
Now, this review could flow in any number of directions. Perhaps it is best just to let things flush forth with humor and humility.
“We make funny things,” said Michael Berger, the curator, creator and czar of the Klooseum, a museum in Erbenheim, Germany, devoted to defecation and urination.
In German, Klo is slang for the john, the loo and, well, you get the point.
The English language is replete with genteel words and phrases relating to the process and the accessories that make it possible. We call the settings in which the process unfurls restrooms, water closets and a host of other things. Obviously, some terms are rather nasty — and we haven’t even gotten around to the process itself.
“Nothing is holy for me,” Berger said before ascending a flight of stairs toward a wall covered with rolls of toilet paper, many graced with irreverent jokes and likenesses. “I have more humor than most people.”
The Klooseum is in a house in downtown Erbenheim, a town adjacent to Wiesbaden Army Airfield. Berger recently took a trio of visitors on a private weekday tour of his museum, which is normally in operation only on Sundays. It opened to the public a few weeks ago.
Upon entering, visitors follow a path that snakes through a series of identical yellow cutouts dangling from the ceiling. This is to simulate the passage food takes when digested.
Visitors then move from room to room, each dedicated to the end result. Along the way there are sound effects, ranging from stomach or intestinal flatulence to toilet flushes. Some people may find it all a bit crude, while others will have a gas passing among the tract of collectibles Berger has spent six years amassing.
“It’s important to be proud of what you ‘make,’ ” said Berger. “Be happy.”
A person probably could spend a whole digestive cycle circulating from one sassy display to the next. Near the entrance are quips applicable to the derrière in 64 languages. There are toilet seats, whoopee cushions, fake excrement, a toilet-shaped bottle of eau de toilette and chamber pots, some with the handle on the inside. There’s even a functioning toilet set inside a television console.
And that’s only a sampling of Berger’s wide array of accessories to the arse.
“That’s Hitler as a toilet brush, and there’s Stalin and there’s Mao,” he said of the former despots of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Communist China.
All in all this is a museum that is truly one of a kind. It even includes a gift shop with postcards of posteriors, books on buttocks and other socially sensitive items and themes to the subject.
“It’s all a game,” Berger said.
Drive toward Wiesbaden Army Airfield on B455, passing it, the south exit for Erbenheim and A 66. Take the north exit for Erbenheim and head toward the center of town on Berliner Strasse. Take a left onto Barbarossa Strasse. The museum is at Wandersmannstr. 2b.
Open 11:11 a.m. to 5:17 p.m. Sundays from April through August.
Admission is 4.99 euros.
The museum has no cafe or restaurant, which is probably a good idea given the subject matter. Establishments are nearby.
Website is www.klooseum.de. Phone or fax: 0611-74-001.