Why on earth do you need a poo museum?
Poo is all around us - it’s inside us too... and it turns out to be amazing stuff. Our lives depend on it in ways most people never imagine. For ecology and biology, animal droppings are a brilliant clue to the biodiversity of a place and every poo is a universe of buzzing microscopic activity. If you know what to look out for, each one has a mind-blowing story to tell.
In the realm of health and well-being 'poo taboo' can make the subject difficult to talk about and this causes serious problems with public health. Folks who are too embarrassed to go to their doctor when they have bowel problems often miss a chance to save their own lives from bowel cancer. Kids with encopresis (acute constipation) often suffer in shame. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, colitis, C. difficile and food intolerance can all lead children and adults to suffer in silence. With your support, we can help change all that. One of the brilliant things The National Poo Museum is able to do is LIFT THE TABOO ON POO!
Poo jokes are funny wherever you come from. We've discovered that when facts are amusing or entertaining people remember them much better. The National Poo Museum is a 'hands-on' experience involving all the senses....in the safest way possible of course!! Entertaining and educational public outreach is a major part of our job. We engage with schools, communities and visitors in the most entertaining, imaginative and informative ways we can think of.
For our team at TNPM research & development go hand in well-washed hand with our Entertainment, Education and Heritage projects. We have a number of R&D partners that we're currently either working with or hoping to in the near future. Research work includes working with BBC Television's Curious Creatures TV show, Liverpool University's forthcoming Dog Poo Family Event, Vectis Housing and our sister project Artecology.
Our new fortified home has been designated a 'Scheduled Ancient Monument' by Historic England. This means it's a "nationally important" heritage building. Known as Sandown Battery, it is located in the most splendid spot on a coastal clifftop in Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight in England. It's one of the many Palmerston Forts built on the island to protect it from French invasion during the mid 1800's. Sadly over the last 30 years, the fort has fallen into dereliction. With your help, we will breathe new life into the fort and its surrounding gardens by introducing visitors not only to our museum but also to the wonders of the fort itself, preserving this magnificent building, dating from the Napoleonic era, for generations to come.
So as you can see, all the above stuff plus a host of other brilliant things in the pipeline is why the world really does need a museum entirely dedicated to poo!
National Poo Museum Directors at the derelict Battery
So who are we and what's our story?
A chance encounter with a lynx poo sparked off the idea for a poo exhibition and when that idea landed in the midst of the art collective Eccleston George on the Isle of Wight UK, The National Poo Museum was born as an idea. We decided to steer clear of both crude jokes and sterile dryness in favour of a taboo-busting family friendly formula.....actually there has been quite a bit of toilet humour along the way - it's sort of unavoidable and adds to the fun of course! So to start with, early in 2016, we worked with our neighbours at the Isle of Wight Zoo (who happen to have some very fine exotic poos) to launch a temporary exhibition called 'Poo at the Zoo'. We realised that the exhibits needed to be safe to handle and beautiful to look at so we invented a whole set of tools and techniques so we could display them in illuminated crystal balls.
The public and media response was unbelievable. Within days of the launch we were appearing in articles and being interviewed on radio and TV across the world and the zoo had its busiest spring season ever. People loved what we’d done - suddenly folks had an opportunity to talk about poo and given that opportunity they certainly did!
Play this clip from Today FM Anton Savage Show 2016 to see what we mean!
The wave of international publicity had the effect that we accidentally became a hub for all things related to poo. As a result, during 2016 and 2017, we connected with scientists from the Natural History Museum, MIT, the Canadian Gastrointestinal Society, cancer charities, documentary makers, universities, museum curators and political campaigners etc, many with questions and project requests. We realised very quickly that our small exhibition was becoming something much bigger than the travelling show it was...it became clear that we needed a real home!
We’ve now found the perfect place to call home. Sandown Barrack Battery Wikipedia. It’s small but beautifully formed with battlements, gardens, secret tunnels and a moat. We’ll be moving into three small buildings at ground level. The two gatehouses will become the museum and a café/shop. The derelict public toilet will be reopened in part as our ‘loo lab’ for practical work on exhibits and storage and partly as a freely accessible public toilet which we’ll maintain ourselves. We aim to make this the world’s most brilliantly interesting public toilet, an experience worth dropping in for whether it's ones or twos!
Inside Sandown Battery.
How is the money being spent?
The first thing to say is that we're a not-for-profit organisation and we really want to make The National Poo Museum free to visitors. With your help, we think we can do exactly that. As a group of creative people, we’re used to making small budgets go a long way. The National Poo Museum travelling exhibition has been created entirely from the resourcefulness of the people who set it up and has relied solely on local visitor donations to exist. Now though we need your support to turn an unloved historic monument into a thriving visitor attraction and the world's first and only GLOBAL POO HUB.
So there's a lot to do in order to bring the neglected fort back in to the public realm, and obviously a project like this is going to be pretty costly. In a fantastic vote of confidence in The National Poo Museum project, the Isle of Wight Council has pitched in £15,000 of Section 106 community seed funding to start renovation work on the fort buildings. What could be better than a museum full of poo to make those seeds grow! The council's donation is a brilliant start but this won't be enough to complete the job....hence our Crowdfunder campaign.
We are staging the works over three phases so that whatever happens the museum will definitely open to the public this year. In a way, the restoration work is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
1) Fix the museum building.
2) Fix the poo themed cafe building.
3) Create the world's most brilliantly interesting public toilet!
All the roofs leak. Ivy has worked its roots through the walls. There are no windows, only boards. No doors and in one room the floor is completely missing! We’ll need to build disabled access ramps and get what will be the 'world's most brilliantly interesting loo' up to standard as an accessible toilet.
We’ve assembled a restoration team including woodworkers, electricians, plumbers, as well as an array of brilliant volunteer experts made up of scientists, sculptors, zoologists, doctors, ecologists, artists and themers, all of them ready to help make a truly amazing poo themed visitor experience. These fantastic people with their skills and knowledge coupled with your donation will bring The National Poo Museum to life like never before!
Once the buildings are in good order we’ll turn our attention back to developing the exhibits. If we raise more than our goal we'd love to build a pedal-powered poo accelerator to demonstrate what happens when trains dump sewage at high speed - yes, it still happens! We'd also like to demonstrate the power of poo by literally making a miniature poo gas power plant exhibit.....imagine that!
At first we thought poo was a niche subject, but in fact, the possibilities are endless. If you'd like to help us make this project a reality, please make a donation! Imagine the joy of telling our friends you made a deposit at The National Poo Museum!
Alternative Ways to Give If You Are Famous!
Celebrities, would you consider donating one your actual poos to our collection? We think a famous poo or two in our collection would do wonders for our National Poo Museum cause!
Thanks from us all at The National Poo Museum!
BBC Earth Unplugged visited our exhibition in 2016.