Every once and a while you stumble across something really interesting on the internet, the Washington Banana Museum—an online museum dedicated to anything and everything related to bananas—is one of those things.
The virtual museum (www.bananamuseum.com) provides a visual history of the banana and includes numerous items including banana themed postcards, buttons, sheet music, stamps, photographs and even a banana cello.
The museum was created by Ann Mitchell Lovell who said that even as a baby she was crazy for bananas. Thus, she said that after growing up as “Ana Banana” with a love for the taste of bananas, it was inevitable that if she was going to collect something, it had to be bananas.
Lovell’s collection of banana memorabilia officially started in the 1980s with a t-shirt she picked up from a bar in Hawaii called “Anna Bannanas.” Since then she has collected more than 6000 items from antique stores, thrift stores, yard sales, and of course eBay. She said some of her favourite items in the museum are old photographs of people eating bananas in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and commented, “I love seeing a window into the past and imaging the people posing in their very elaborate clothing holding a peeled banana in a studio setting. At one time it was a sort of status symbol to have a banana.”
She is also very fond of the bakelite Josephine Baker necklace…
…and the miniature Sebastian figure of Chiquita Banana.
Personally, my favourite item is the Banana tokens which were issued by Elders and Fyffes (banana importers, who also operated passenger carrying banana boats) as part of a promotional campaign in England.
And if the virtual museum leaves you wanting more, Lovell also has an actual museum in Auburn, Washington where the items are on display at 120 E. Main St., Tuesday-Thursday 10:00am-1:00pm, Friday 10:00am-3:00pm and Saturday 10:00am-3:00pm.
—Special thanks for Ann Mitchell Lovell for the interview and for sharing these photos courtesy of the Banana Museum.