Museum of 

Failure 

The Museum of Failure is a collection of failed products and services from around the world. Most of all innovation projects fail, and the museum showcases these missteps to provide visitors with a fascinating learning experience. Every item provides unique insight into the risky business of innovation. Innovation and progress require accepting the risk of failure. The museum aims to stimulate productive discussion about failure and inspire us to take meaningful risks. The museum is curated by Dr. Samuel West, licensed psychologist, PhD in Organizational Psychology.

www.museumoffailure.com

Photo: Sofie Lindberg

Itera

(1981–1985)


The Itera plastic bicycle generated a fair amount of press during its short lifespan in the early 1980s. Expected to revolutionize the bicycle industry, the Itera was launched with slogans such as “We’re pedaling out of the Iron Age!”
and “The eternal machine — made of the same material as spaceships.” However, the plastic construction was not sturdy enough, which caused the bike to wobble. The bicycle also ended up costing twice as much as planned to manufacture. Piles of unsold bikes were buried.

Photo: Embassy of Sweden in the US

Pacemaker DJ

(2008–2011)

 

The Pacemaker DJ evoked thoughts of a device that would not only shock your heart but with a DJ’s beat no less. Alas, it was just a portable DJ device. The Pacemaker DJ could mix tracks
and crossfade like any pair of decks. It even won an award for its bold design. But the $800 price tag could make any healthy person’s heart skip a beat. All of this came at a time when the world
was turning to smartphone technology for all its DJ needs.

Photo: Embassy of Sweden in the US

Ahlgrens Bilar

(1953–)

 

The Ahlgrens candy factory manager
Gustav Belinky and his colleagues often experimented with new products. During the 1950s he tried to develop a version of the American marshmallow. The marshmallows were too tough and chewy, and he thought that they had failed. But someone discovered that the failed batter tasted good. According to the story, the chewy candy was named “bilar” (Swedish for cars) because Belinky loved Bugatti race cars. Ahlgrens failed marshmallows became a huge success.

Photo: Sofie Lindberg

Bofors Toothpaste

(1968–1971)
 

In the 1960s, Swedish weapons manufacturer Bofors tried to branch out and start making “peace products.” The Bofors toothpaste contained artificial sweeteners and microplastic beads as a mild abrasive. By 1971, unfounded rumors spread alleging the beads would remain in the body for months with catastrophic results. The weapon manufacturer’s assurances that the toothpaste was safe did not help. The peaceful paste took a bullet and was carried off the field in 1971.

Photo: Embassy of Sweden in the US

Cash Card

(1998–2004)
 

In the late 1990s in Sweden, the cash card was introduced as a better way to pay than cash. A fast, easy, and secure way to make purchases. The card, however, proved to be a hassle to use.
Few stores accepted it, and it didn’t work to pay for calls or parking. And last but not least, the banks charged fees to both buyers and sellers.

Photo: Embassy of Sweden in the US

Gizmondo

(2005–2006)


The Gizmondo was a handheld gaming console partially developed in Sweden. Expectations were high due to its exciting new features and enthusiastic leadership. Millions were spent on promotion and the device was expected to compete against giants Nintendo and Sony. The Gizmondo launch party in London was “the biggest party the games industry had
ever seen.” After a delayed launch, financial scandals, and disappointing reviews, it ended up as a major sales failure. GamePro called it the worst selling handheld console in history.

Photo: Embassy of Sweden in the US

Warship Vasa
(1628)


Swedish warship Vasa was the world’s most high-tech warship when she set sail in 1628. However, the Vasa was dangerously top heavy and unstable. Despite this, she was impatiently
ordered out to sea for her maiden voyage. As she was exiting the harbor, the wind picked up and the ship floundered. She sank in full view of a horrified public assembled to see off Europe’s most ambitious warship to date. Although Vasa didn’t work out so well, her influence lives on in infamy. Her design was copied for the “Black Pearl” in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Photo: Embassy of Sweden in the US

Tetra Pak Rigello
(1969–1980)


Packaging giant Tetra Pak launched the Rigello plastic bottle as an alternative to existing metal and glass beverage containers. Its low weight and price made it an economical choice, and it was supposedly biodegradable. You could finish your drink and then toss the bottle into the nearest forest, river or beach — all the while knowing you were creating fertile mulch. As it
turns out… the plastic wasn’t biodegradable, and old Rigello bottles can still be found in the forests of Sweden.

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2900 K Street N.W.

Washington DC 20007 

Tel: 202-467-2600