Why a Museum

The History of the Museum

Why a Museum?

Well, that is a very good question! Let me tell you a little story, which will give you an idea as to why...

The collection began about 35 years ago when we did not have a pepper mill at home, that worked. So off we went on a quest to find the right one. At first we found one or two, then three or four, until it became an entertainment. Soon we found the world of shakers, where the shapes, themes and colors are endless (as you will see).

Now you might be asking who is this "we". Well, "we" consists of my husband Rolf, my daughter Andrea and my son Alex. My name is Andrea and I am an archaeologist who fell in love with the history found behind salt & pepper shakers.


In the late 1990's, my son gave me a digital camera for Christmas. Soon I began to take pictures of the salt & pepper shakers I had around the house and the many boxes underneath the house. I would take measurements and careful notes on each pair as part of cataloguing the collection. Once the last box was opened, my husband said, "Enough is enough. I won't carry one more box, you have to do something with them!" So the seed was planted. What could we do with them? By 2001 we had moved from Central Texas to the Smoky Mountains to open the only Museum of it's kind in the world! Presently we have over 20,000 pairs of shakers!

One of the main purposes of the museum is to show the changes in a society that can be found represented in shakers. As you walk through the museum you can see the changes from ancient times to the 1500's, 1800's, 1920's, 40's, 60's all the way to present time.

Another purpose of the museum is to show the variety and the creativity that can be found in salt and pepper shakers. Who where the people and the artist creative enough to come up with all these amazing different shapes?

The third purpose of the museum is to bring people together. We are all connected to salt & pepper shaker collectors, a grandparent (or other family members), a friend, a co-worker, or a neighbor. And everyone has a memory about a salt & pepper shaker, either from their childhood or later in life.

As you explore the collection you will see the salt & pepper shakers displayed by themes and colors. I have also created little stories (within the displays), which I have found that, those young of heart are able to see and enjoy. Each theme is separated by pepper mills, my husband's passion in this world of condiment tools. We currently have over 1500 pepper mills from all over the world. Rolf finds the mechanisms fascinating, from simple to complex.

After 35 years of collecting we are happy to share with fellow collectors and visitors the amazing world of Salt & Pepper Shakers! As I always like to say "Keep collecting!"

A museum is... institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary.


The English "museum" comes from the Latin word, and is pluralized as "museums" (or rarely, "musea"). It is originally from the Greek Μουσεῖον (Mouseion), which denotes a place or temple dedicated to the Muses (the patron divinities in Greek mythology of the arts), and hence a building set apart for study and the arts, especially the Musaeum (institute) for philosophy and research at Alexandria by Ptolemy I Soter about 280 BCE. The first museum/library is considered to be the one of Plato in Athens. However, Pausanias gives another place called "Museum", namely a small hill in Classical Athens opposite the Akropolis. The hill was called Mouseion after Mousaious, a man who used to sing on the hill and died there of old age and was subsequently buried there as well. ~ Wikipedia