Exploring the Museum of Failure in NYC: Lessons from Failed Products and Companies

The Museum of Failure NYC: Celebrating Failure and Innovation


As humans, we tend to associate failure with negative connotations. However, failure is a vital part of progress and innovation. Learning from our failures can lead to new advancements and breakthroughs. The Museum of Failure NYC recognizes this and celebrates the positive impact of failure.

The Origins of the Museum of Failure NYC

The Museum of Failure NYC was initially founded in Sweden by Dr. Samuel West to showcase notable failures in various industries with the intention of highlighting that failure is not the opposite of success, but rather part of the process. The Museum was created to acknowledge that failure is necessary to achieve success, and it doesn’t always have to be taken negatively.

When the museum started gaining considerable attention in Europe, it was time to expand. The first stop was the Museum of Failure Los Angeles, where it served as a sensation. Shortly after, the Museum of Failure NYC made its way to the Big Apple.

The Exhibits at the Museum of Failure NYC

The Museum of Failure NYC features several exhibitions that provide visitors with an insight into some of the significant failures in business, technology, and entertainment.

One of the exhibits is the infamous “Colgate Lasagna,” showing Colgate (yes, the toothpaste company) mistakenly introducing a line of frozen dinners in 1982. The line was only on the market for a short time due to poor sales and a lot of confusion from customers who didn’t know what a toothpaste company was doing selling frozen meals.

The “Google Glass,” another popular exhibit at the museum, showcased how Google’s wearable technology was deemed a failure due to its high development cost and a lack of privacy and social etiquette issues. Other exhibits include the Sony Betamax, which lost out to VHS tapes in the battle of the home video standards, and the Segway, a personal transportation device that never lived up to the high expectations that the public put on it.

These exhibits aim to demonstrate that even the biggest and most popular names have had setbacks throughout history. They assure us that it is okay to make mistakes, learn from them, and even innovate and succeed after a setback.

Final Thoughts

The Museum of Failure NYC challenges us to shift our thoughts on failure and look at it as part of the process of innovation. The museum serves a dual purpose in showcasing notable failures and aiming to inspire visitors to see that setbacks can act as a catalyst for progress. The exhibits not only provide insight into previous mistakes, but they also demonstrate how even the most successful people in history have experienced failure at some point.

The Museum of Failure NYC reminds us that we shouldn’t be scared of opportunities to innovate and that even failure has the potential to lead to groundbreaking successes. Instead of shying away from failures, we should embrace and learn from them.

Why Failure is Crucial to Innovation

Failure is an inevitable part of the innovation process. Without failure, we cannot innovate because innovation requires experimentation and risk-taking. Successful innovations are often the result of a trial-and-error process involving a series of failures that lead to breakthroughs.

The Fear of Failure

Many people are afraid of failure because it can be painful, embarrassing, and demoralizing. The fear of failure can hold us back from pursuing our dreams, taking risks, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

However, failing is not the end of the world. It is important to remember that failure is a part of life and that everyone fails at some point. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

The Benefits of Failure

Contrary to popular belief, failure can be beneficial. When we fail, we have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, identify areas for improvement, and try different approaches. Failure also teaches us resilience, determination, and perseverance.

For entrepreneurs and innovators, failure is essential because it helps them refine and improve their ideas. It is through failure that they are able to identify what works and what doesn’t, refine their vision, and pivot when necessary.

Celebrating Failure

By its very nature, the Museum of Failure NYC celebrates failure and recognizes its importance in the innovation process. Through the exhibition of failed products and services, the Museum provides a space to reflect on our failures, learn from them, and have a good laugh.

By celebrating failure, we can change our attitudes towards it and create a culture of experimentation. Rather than being afraid of failure, we can embrace it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Rather than punishing failure, we can reward it as a sign of courage and creativity.

In conclusion, failure is crucial to innovation because it inspires creativity, experimentation, and risk-taking. Without failure, we cannot learn, grow, or innovate. By changing our attitudes towards failure and embracing it as a valuable part of the innovation process, we can create a culture of experimentation that leads to breakthroughs and progress.

Lessons from Famous Failures

The Apple Newton

In an era where technology was taking off, Apple released its latest invention, the Apple Newton. Revolutionizing handheld devices, the Newton promised to be a personal digital assistant, capable of recognizing handwriting and taking notes, among other things. A groundbreaking invention in its time, the Newton had a range of features that seemed appealing, but it failed to gain mass appeal.

The Newton flopped when it was first released, and this was largely attributed to the fact that it was released before it was ready. Apple’s early models were often criticized for their technical issues and software failures. It was expensive, it was bulky, and it did not live up to the hype. So, what can we learn from the failure of the Apple Newton?

First and foremost, companies need to ensure that they have the right timing. It is essential to recognize that there is a window of opportunity when it comes to technological advancements. Despite its revolutionary features, the Newton was too early. Second, regardless of how innovative the product is, it needs to be practical. Consumers need a product that is practical and will be of some value to them.

The Coca-Cola New Coke

The Coca-Cola New Coke is an infamous failure that has since been used as a reference point in marketing classes. In 1985, Coca-Cola announced a new formula for its flagship beverage, claiming to have improved the taste. This resulted in a backlash from consumers who protested the change.

Despite advertising being a significant part of the launch, the new Coke failed. The company’s decades-long domination in the market was at risk, but fortunately, they were quick to respond. Within three months, the original formula of Coca-Cola was brought back, and the marketing campaign for the return of “Coca-Cola Classic” was brilliantly executed. This earned the company a lot of goodwill from its customers.

The new formula dying off so quickly was a lesson for Coca-Cola, who realized that their loyal customers had a deep emotional connection to their product. The company also had to learn that it is essential to have a clear understanding of the market of your competitors, and there is no formula for success.

The Blockbuster Video Model

Blockbuster was once one of the biggest and most prominent rental chains in the world. For several years, Blockbuster Video stood out because it had a vast library of movies available unobtainable elsewhere. The company was on top until streaming services such as Netflix became the new norm. As time went on, Blockbuster failed to adapt to the trend of streaming, and this led to its ultimate downfall.

The Blockbuster Video example shows that companies need to adapt to new technologies. There is always something on the horizon that would revolutionize how things are done. Blockbuster had the opportunity to get into the video streaming business but, for various reasons, failed in that way. Companies should also learn to listen and cater to the needs of their customers.

In conclusion, studying famous failures can help us learn what to avoid and what to embrace in our own businesses. The key lessons learned from these failures are that timing is crucial, practicality is essential, listening to customers is vital, and lastly, we should always be on the lookout for the next big thing. By learning from these notable failures, businesses can establish themselves in their respective fields and avoid the same mistakes.

The Future of Failure and Innovation

New Approaches to Innovation

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world, innovation is critical to success. However, innovation also brings with it the possibility of failure. Many businesses are now realizing that embracing failure as an inevitable part of the process can actually lead to greater success in the long run.

One approach to innovation that embraces failure is called “design thinking”. This methodology involves creating and testing prototypes in order to learn and refine ideas. The goal is not to get everything right on the first try, but rather to quickly learn from mistakes and iterate until a successful product or service is created.

Another approach is to “fail fast, fail often”. This mindset encourages experimentation and taking risks, with the goal of learning quickly and cheaply from any failures along the way. By failing frequently, businesses can make rapid progress towards finding a successful solution.

The Limits of Failure

While failure can be a valuable learning tool, it is not always a good thing. In some cases, failure can lead to negative consequences such as financial losses, damaged reputations, and even physical harm. When failure crosses these boundaries, it becomes a problem.

One way to avoid crossing these limits is to set clear boundaries and expectations when it comes to innovation. Businesses can outline specific goals, testing procedures, and risk management strategies to ensure that failure is limited to productive areas. By having a plan in place to manage failure, businesses can minimize negative impact while still promoting innovation.

The Museum as a Learning Platform

The Museum of Failure NYC provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators, and educators to use failure as a learning platform. By exploring exhibits and learning about the failures of others, visitors can gain new perspectives on the importance of failure in the innovation process.

In addition to exhibits, the museum also hosts events and workshops that provide hands-on learning opportunities. These events allow participants to test new ideas and experiment with different approaches to innovation in a safe and supportive environment.

To promote innovation and progress, businesses can also partner with the Museum of Failure. By sharing their own stories of failure and success, these businesses can help inspire others to take risks and learn from their mistakes.

In conclusion, the Museum of Failure NYC offers a valuable learning platform for anyone interested in innovation and success. By embracing failure as a natural part of the process, businesses can develop new approaches to innovation that allow for experimentation and risk-taking. While it is important to set limits and manage failure, the museum provides a safe and informative space for entrepreneurs and innovators to learn and grow.

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