Dimon Kendrick-Holmes

Guess which Columbus museum is among world’s best

Take a trip back in time at the Lunch Box Museum

Allen Woodall is bringing his Lunch Box Museum, located inside The River Market Antiques store, back to Hamilton Road in Columbus after several years at the old Farmer's Market location in Columbus.
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Allen Woodall is bringing his Lunch Box Museum, located inside The River Market Antiques store, back to Hamilton Road in Columbus after several years at the old Farmer's Market location in Columbus.

The other day, Architectural Digest mentioned Columbus in a feature story about travel.

Quick! What specific destination did it mention?

Whitewater? Nope.

Here’s a hint: It’s a museum. The story mentioned the 13 best museums in the world that most people have never heard of.

Oh, OK. The National Infantry Museum? But that’s fairly well known. The National Civil War Naval Museum? Columbus Museum?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

It’s the Lunch Box Museum.

When I got the news, I called Allen Woodall, the owner of the museum, which is adjacent to River Market Antiques off Hamilton Road.

He’s gotten some good publicity over the years, and 20 of his lunch boxes are in the Smithsonian Institute. But did he ever expect to be mentioned in Architectural Digest?

“Never in my wildest dreams,” he said, letting it sink in. “My goodness, what an honor!”

In addition to the Lunch Box Museum, the magazine lists such gems as the British Lawnmower Museum near Liverpool; the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia; the Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Japan; the Museum of Bread Culture in Ulm, Germany; and the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavik.

I’ll let you look that last one up.

Only three other museums on the list are in the United States: The Museum of Bad Art in Somerville, Mass.; the Museum of Failure in Los Angeles; and the Umbrella Cover Museum in Peaks Island, Maine.

So what’s so fascinating about lunch boxes?

A lot, I’d say.

Woodall calls them little time capsules, and he’s right. They make people of a certain age flash back to their childhood.

My first lunch box was plaid. That was tough. You give a boy a name that sounds like “Diamond” and then you send him to school with a plaid lunch box.

When I complained – about the lunch box – my mom got me a “Hong Kong Phooey” lunch box. Now that was cool. Who didn’t aspire to be a crime-fighting dog wearing martial arts attire and living in a filing cabinet?

I never thought I’d see that lunch box again, but there’s one just like it right here in Columbus at the Lunch Box Museum, along with about 2,500 others.

Woodall says folks from all over the country drop by when they’re visiting the graduations of loved ones from schools at Fort Benning.

From 1950 to 1990, he says, nearly every school kid in America toted a lunch box.

Woodall is full of other lunch box fun facts. The last metal lunch box, for example, was a Rambo lunch box made in 1985. On it, Sylvester Stallone is holding an AK-47.

“There was a group of moms in Florida who got together and demonstrated at the state capital that children were using metal lunch boxes to fight each other with,” he says.

He doubts it. “They were banging them up to get a new one for the latest TV show that came out,” he says.

Talking to Woodall makes me want to go back to the Lunch Box Museum and take my kids. They won’t find it so interesting, probably, and they’ll have to listen to a bunch of stories about my childhood.

But what else is new, right?

You should go too.

It’s open Monday-Saturday from 10 to 6. The address is 3218 Hamilton Road. It costs $5 per person, or $4 for military and senior citizens, and is free of charge for children 10 and under. For more information, call 706-653-6240 or log on at www.thelunchboxmuseum.com.

You’re welcome.

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