Well Designed Travel: Uruguay's Museo Arenas

Well Designed Travel: Uruguay's Museo Arenas

Smith Schwartz
Jan 31, 2012

Sometimes on the road, it's easy to accidentally come across some wonderfully unusual things. During a recent weekend trip from Buenos Aries to Colonia Del Sacramento, we took a short tour outside of the historic town to explore the countryside of Uruguay. We came across a lush forest preserve of imported trees, a secret swimming hole and one of the most fascinating museum collections I've ever seen.

As our tour guide pulled his van into the driveway of a sparse yet welcoming farm in the middle of nowhere, I was curious to see what we'd find here. We began to wander around and saw a shop where you can buy homemade jam, a large but empty cafe and a gift shop for Uruguayan souvenirs. In the middle of this strange yet beautiful campus is where you'll find Museo Arenas. Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world's largest pencil collection, you'll see pencils upon pencils upon pencils (each one different than the last!), as well as key-chains and ashtrays from all over the world. Eduardo Arenas began acquiring pencils as a young boy, and has been adding to this collection for his whole life, well over 50 years. Now, many people mail packages of pencils, key-chains and various vintage objects from their hometowns to this Uruguayan outpost to help grow the museum's holdings.

I've never been the collecting type (in fact I'm quite the opposite), so I'm always fascinated by those who are and love to figure out what makes them tick. Whether you collect classic LP's, ceramic teacups or stuffed turtles the issue of storage and display is one that always comes up when setting up home. What's your advice to those who are dealing with the issue of collected objects? Are your collections neatly stowed away or exhibited proudly for all your guests to see?

(Images: Smith Schwartz)

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