The Museum of Failure Is a Success

Click below to see clips from Bens interviews at the Museum of Failure in Hollywood, California.


Did you know that creating a product that fails disastrously could get you featured in a museum? With the opening of the Museum of Failure in Hollywood, California, hundreds of failed products and inventions are getting attention and appreciation.

The museum is the brainchild of Samuel West, a Swedish psychologist who created it to change the way people think about failure. “Failure is essential for any kind of progress,” West said.

The museum debuted in Helsingborg, Sweden. After appearing as a pop-up museum in downtown Los Angeles, it has found a permanent home in Hollywood.

The appealing layout, variety of items, and humorous descriptions make the museum one of a kind. There is even a Failure Confessional Booth, where visitors can post their personal failures anonymously.


Ben with Samuel West, founder of the Museum of Failure, at the opening of the new museum in Hollywood, California

Ben with Samuel West, founder of the Museum of Failure, at the opening of the new museum in Hollywood, California


Some products featured in the museum were initially failures, but alterations turned them into blockbuster hits. The Apple Newton was a flop, to name one example, but it paved the way for the iPhone and iPad, both of which profoundly changed modern life.

Other products, such as Google Glass, seemed like good ideas at the time, but never caught on. And still others—including Bic pens “For Her” and purple ketchup—were doomed from the start.


Colgate Beef Lasagne (Photo by Dr. Samuel West)

Would you buy lasagne from a toothpaste maker? For many people, the answer was, “No.” (Photo by Samuel West)


At the recent opening, West explained his inspiration for the museum. “I was tired of all the success stories,” he said. “Society worships success so much. I thought it would be good to change that perspective by opening up a Museum of Failure. Failure is infinitely more interesting than success.”

By showcasing the missteps of such successful companies as Apple, Hasbro, Harley-Davidson, and others, West hopes to remove the stigma often associated with failure. “Companies are really bad at learning from failure,” he said. “But failure has the potential of leading to success if you’re willing to admit it, and if you’re willing to learn from it.”

Realizing that even the smartest and richest people fail at some point, West added, “makes it easier for us to also fail and not be so afraid of it.”

When asked what he wanted kids to learn from the museum, West said, “It’s not so dangerous to fail. Failure is life’s way of teaching you things.”