A toothache-anaesthetizing solution gives a jaunty air to this fun concept of the Dullest Exhibition-case Award.  But lest you think Winder is simply irreverent, note his comment on the entirely understandable tendency towards caution among ideology-pounded curators. 

For some years I have had an underdeveloped fantasy about the museum directors of western Romania and how at their annual Christmas lunch the impatiently awaited highlight – between gulps of gum-burning brandy – is always the announcement of the winner of the dullest exhibition-case award … In a crowded field the winner most years must be the incomparable display case at the Sighisoara Museum that simply features two late-nineteenth-century books open to show illustrations of a man demonstrating a back-strengthening device ….


Even typing this I feel a total heel. How can museums which have been hit by every imaginable ideological wave be anything other than timorous? 

For a great sampling of Winder’s triologisms, and a quote-packed tribute to his earlier book on Germany, see our bestellar review.


Source: Simon Winder, Danubia: A personal history of Habsburg Europe (London: Picador, 2013), p. 454-55


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