The Museum of Beverage Containers & Advertising – RIP
A Eulogy, Obituary, Ode, and Tribute to Beverage Containment
I visited The Museum of Beverage Containers & Advertising in the summer of 1998. My friends and stumbled upon it on a trip to Nashville to see a friend. It wasn’t our original destination, but it was undoubtedly our destiny.
The Museum of Beverage Containers & Advertising opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony in April of 1987. The Museum’s inspired creator and dedicated curator started as a boy, gathering cans from the side of the road. His passion spawned the largest beer and soda container collection the world has ever known.
Just imagine our excitement. Over than 36,000 beverage cans and bottles. What could be more exciting to three young, single men in their prime? Nothing. That’s what.
All shapes, sorts, and sizes. The venerable exhibit claimed to host first beer can ever made. The first soda can too. Classic brands. Forgotten brands. Generic brands. Local brands. Foreign brands. Antique. Contemporary. All there. Lined delicately on custom-made shelves. Narrow aisles, packed in tight. We were literally surrounded side to side. Floor to ceiling. And it had a gift shop.
The whole thing was like a little slice of heaven. Beverage containers carefully organized by year, brand, and type. You could spend hours. We did.
The vast display brought you in and hugged you tight – like you belonged there. You see – there was no glass. No velvet rope blocking you from its meticulously arranged cylindrical artifacts. You could get right up close and even pick them up if you wanted. But the reverence was palpable. If you touch – do so respectfully. We did.
The Museum of Beverage Containers & Advertising served as an inspiration for authors. Over its storied career, it was featured in America’s Strangest Museums: a Traveler’s Guide, Soda Spectrum Magazine (issue 59), and the unforgettable, “Romantic Tennessee” by Carol and Dan Thailmer.
In its twenty years of service, The Museum of Beverage Containers & Advertising, hosted what I am assured were, at least… dozens… of enthralled visitors – drawn, like moths to light – into the sleepy hamlet of Goodletsville Tennessee.
I only visited once, but the memories and experience will stay with me the rest of my life.
It is rumored that the collection was up for sale. I only hope that these glass and aluminum treasures were sold to a caring party who might reinstate this beacon of Americana, so that I might someday bring my children to experience the gallery of drink packaging and labelling. The thought of it being hauled away – to some recycling center – that would break my heart.
The dictionary defines museum as “a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.” Well, The Museum of Beverage Containers & Advertising was that… But it was something more. A tribute to American thirst. A study on liquid containment. It was a beacon of hope.
I will always remember The Museum of Beverage Containers & Advertising.
I’d like to close with a song:
If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
‘Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you