My name is Hans Fex. I've spent most of my life collecting rare and fascinating objects. Over the years, I've been able to assemble an incredible collection which I am now sharing with the world through a project called Mini Museum.
Since our first Kickstarter project in 2014, we've shared this journey across space and time with thousands of people all over the world.
It's been an amazing adventure so far and the entire Mini Museum team is so excited to come back to Kickstarter to share the ALL-NEW FOURTH EDITION!
Beginning with amino acids captured during the birth of the solar system, the Fourth Edition takes you on a new journey spanning billions of years of science and history.
You'll visit the bright highlands of the Moon, witness devastating and cataclysmic events here on Earth, and examine hundreds of millions of years of evolution. You'll turn your attention to the march of human civilization. The collection ends by turning back toward the promise of space and marveling at the wonder of life.
And it's all right here in the palm of your hand...
In total, the Fourth Edition collection contains 29 specimens. The full specimen list appears below with more information and pictures further down the page.
As with past collections, the Fourth Edition is a handcrafted, limited edition collectible. The unique specimens inside are clearly labeled and artfully arranged. The entire collection is encased in Lucite acrylic and designed to inspire for generations.
Your Mini Museum will arrive in a handsome Display Box designed just for the Fourth Edition. Inside the foam padded box, your Mini Museum will be protected by a Custom Micro-Fiber Pouch. You will also find a Certificate of Authenticity, and a special, hardcover book which we call the Companion Guide.
The Companion Guide is a starting point for learning more about the specimens in the collection, details about our process, and additional references so that you can continue exploring on your own.
The Mini Museum is a truly awesome collection to have and to explore, and will be a compliment to treasures you may already own. It also makes a wonderful gift for the person who has just about everything, or for someone special you want to inspire. It is designed for sharing!
During this Kickstarter campaign we are offering the opportunity to back the "Large" version of the Fourth Edition, which contains all 29 specimens and is encased in Lucite acrylic.
The "Large" Fourth Edition also comes with the following items:
- Certificate of Authenticity
- Custom Display Box
- Custom Micro-Fiber Pouch
- Full-Color, Hardbound Companion Guide Book
Shipping $10 (USD) Worldwide!
No matter where you are in the WORLD, shipping will be $10 for your Kickstarter reward! This price will only be available during the Kickstarter campaign and will only apply to the rewards you are backing during the campaign.
Important Information for Backers Outside the United States
As with past projects, the shipping price for your Kickstarter reward only includes the cost of shipping. The price does not include sales tax/VAT or any duties/customs fees that may apply.
"What about the SMALL and the TOUCH versions?"
The SMALL and TOUCH versions of the Mini Museum are in development and will be released directly in September. Backers of this campaign (any reward level) will receive priority * and special pricing * when the Small and Touch versions are released. More details about these items will be shared in a project update.
Over the last few years we've tackled some big challenges, and I think we’ve captured something really special in the Fourth Edition. I'm just as excited about it as I was when we launched the First Edition.
Thank you all so very much for taking the time to learn more about our latest collection. Your support makes this possible!
Now, it's back to work!
- Hans Fex, Creator and Chief Curator of the Mini Museum
01. EXTRATERRESTRIAL AMINO ACIDS (c. 4,568,200,000 years old)
Each year nearly 40,000,000 kilograms (88.1 million pounds) of meteoritic material rains down on the Earth. Less than 1% holds traces of organic compounds, and within this tiny subset scientists sometimes come across even rarer material... amino acids, the building blocks of life. The oldest of these meteorites, carbonaceous chondrites, date to the formation of the solar system.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is composed of two special carbonaceous chondrites: Murchison and Jbilet Winselwan. Both of these meteorites are CM2 class carbonaceous chondrites, a class known to contain the highest density of amino acids.
02. LUNAR HIGHLANDS (c. 3,200,000,000 years old)
It might be hard to imagine volcanoes on the Moon, but the evidence of an active volcanic past covers our neighbor's cratered surface. The highlands of the Moon are the white areas we can see with the naked eye here on Earth. These regions are dominated by a range of intrusive igneous rocks which form as large plumes of magma cool and crystallize within the crust. The dark areas which are called maria (latin for seas) are basalts created during volcanic floods on the surface.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a handcrafted "moon" composed of fine-grained dust extracted from the NWA 5000 lunar meteorite - one of the largest lunar meteorites ever found.
03. COPPER CRYSTALS (c. 300,000,000 years old)
The intricate lattice of native copper crystals reveals a story of deep geological processes lasting hundreds of millions of years. Stronger than gold but still soft enough to be shaped easily into tools, weapons, and decorative objects, this form of copper also played an important role in the development of human cultures across the globe as they stepped out of the Stone Age and into the Age of Metals.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from native copper deposits located near the city of Zhezqazghan, Kazakhstan. The earliest copper mining in this region dates back many thousands of years, crossing numerous cultures, with extensive trade routes into the ancient world.
04. THE GREAT DYING (c. 292,000,000 years old)
Known as "The Great Dying," the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event is the largest extinction event in the history of the planet. The chief catalyst of this extinction event was a series of massive volcanic eruptions known as the Siberian Traps. Over the course of 1,000,000 years, these flood basalt eruptions covered over 7 million square kilometers (2,700,000 square miles). Massive carbon dioxide and methane releases caused runaway global warming, killing nearly 95% of life on Earth.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a basalt slab from the Kuznetsk Basin in southwestern Siberia. The Kuznetsk Basin is also home to one of the largest coal deposits on earth, a remnant of the global destruction caused by the Siberian Traps.
05. PANGEA (c. 200,000,000 years old)
Driven by heat from the Earth's core, convection currents churn the solid silicates of the mantle, pushing and pulling the thin plates of crust, bringing continents together and tearing them apart in cycles which can last for hundreds of millions of years. Clusters of continents are known as supercontinents; the most famous of which is Pangea. The breakup of Pangea came after a series of powerful rifting events, in which strong pulses of magma forced continental plates apart at the seams, creating new crust and opening up the basin in which the Atlantic Ocean eventually took shape.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a polished diabase fragment from the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province deposits of Eastern North America. The source rock was donated by the Luck Stone Quarry adjacent to the Manassas U.S. Civil War battlefield in Northern Virginia. The quarry is a magnificent location where it is possible to clearly see one of the rift valleys which tore through the ancient supercontinent and might once have become the Atlantic Ocean.
06. DINOSAUR FOOD (Cycad)
The palm-like figure of the Cycad is familiar to fans of classic, paleoart paintings. The extensive presence of these gymnosperms in the fossil record led many early researchers to think of Cycads simply as "dinosaur food," but the current thinking presents a more complex picture of this long-lived family of seed-bearing plants and their relationship with the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a fossilized Cycad husk recovered on private land in Wyoming. Part of the Lance formation, this find dates to the Late Cretaceous Period, roughly 67,000,000 years ago
07. PLESIOSAUR (Paddle)
Featuring a long, snake-like neck and a stout body equipped with slender paddles, Plesiosaurs are one of the most readily identifiable of all ancient marine reptiles. Biomechanical reconstructions suggest that Plesiosaurs moved through the water in the same way that turtles or penguins do, more like flying than swimming.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from the paddles of two different Plesiosaurs, both recovered on private land but separated by vast distance in both time and location. The first specimen comes from the Lower Oxford Clay in Cambridgeshire, England dating to the Middle Jurassic Period, while the second comes from the Morrison Formation of Utah and dates to the Cretaceous Period.
08. RAPTOR (Dromaeosaurid Bone)
Known popularly as "raptors", dromaeosaurids were a diverse family of feathered theropod dinosaurs. Dromaeosaurids also had long tails and an elongated "sickle claw" on the second toe. While this distinctive body plan suggests a link to birds, scientists are still unclear on the exact connection, though there is some evidence that smaller species could at least glide.
The specimen used in the Mini Museum was selected from several species recovered in both Morocco and North America. Like birds, dromaeosaurids had a global distribution and varied widely in size from smaller than a modern day chicken to large, powerful predators measuring more than 18ft (6m) in length from tooth-to-tail.
09. MEGA CROC (Sarcosuchus Armor)
Sarcosuchus was an enormous, crocodile-like, aquatic reptile that dominated freshwater rivers and lakes of the Middle Jurassic Period through the Early Cretaceous Period. With the largest species reaching nearly 40 feet in length (11-12 meters) and weighing close to 8 metric tons, Sarcosuchus feasted on a wide range of prey, from fish to land-dwelling dinosaurs.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment from a Sarcosuchus scute (dermal armor) recovered from the El Rhaz Formation in Niger. Recent studies suggest that the largest Sarcosuchus specimens may have taken up to 60 years to reach their full size.
10. SABER-TOOTH TIGER (Smilodon Bone)
With twin serrated canine teeth measuring 8 inches (20 cm) and backed by 600 pounds (275 kg) of muscle, Smilodon is one of the most iconic animals of the Pleistocene Epoch. Biomechanical models suggest that Smilodon hunted by relying on powerful neck muscles to sink their long teeth into prey as opposed to using bite force to crush the windpipe as cats do today.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a pair of Smilodon fatalis femurs recovered on private land in Florida. This species of Smilodon ranged across North America and into the western half of South America for roughly 1.5 million years, finally succumbing with other megafauna during the Quaternary Extinction Event 10,000 years ago.
11. GIANT BEAVER (Castoroides Tooth)
Even though the beaver is among the largest rodents in the world today, it's only a fraction of the size of its extinct cousin, Castoroides. Popularly known as the Giant Beaver, Castoroides was about the size of a modern black bear, weighing roughly 220 pounds (100 kg) and measuring more than 7 feet (2.5 m) without their long, flat tails.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of a Giant Beaver incisor recovered on private land. While we might imagine Castoroides using these mighty teeth to fell enormous trees, their blunt ends suggest the Giant Beaver lived as muskrats do today, feasting on softer, leafy plants rather than building dams and lodges.
12. DOGGERLAND MAMMOTH (Tooth)
During the Pleistocene, Great Britain was the northwest peninsula of the European continent. Bounded to the north by steep walls of ice, the land between was home to a steppe ecosystem full of life. Now lost beneath the waves of the North Sea, this phantom countryside is known as Doggerland and is now a fertile fishing ground which occasionally yields remains from a long vanished world of Neanderthals and megafauna like the woolly mammoth.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of a woolly mammoth tooth recovered from the lost world of Doggerland. The morphology of mammoth teeth and the distribution of mammoth remains suggests mammoths were predominantly grazers subsisting mainly upon grasses and sedges, a diverse biomass that the modern Arctic tundra doesn’t approach.
13. ELEPHANT BIRD (Aepyornis Eggshell)
The Elephant Bird was the largest member of an extinct family of flightless birds native to the island of Madagascar. Some individuals stood nearly 10 feet tall (3m) and weighed upwards of 1,100 pounds (500 kg). These massive birds laid the largest eggs of any known bird species, with volumes approaching 1.9 gallons (7L).
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of an Elephant Bird eggshell, generously donated from the personal collection of renowned Australian art dealer and long-time supporter of Mini Museum, Hank Ebes.
14. AMAZON RIVER
With headwaters located high in the Peruvian Andes, just 100 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Amazon river gathers strength from over 1000 tributaries as it flows for more than 4,300 miles (6,900 km) across the South American continent. On meeting the Atlantic Ocean, this mighty river discharges 7.7 million cubic feet of water per second. The river's massive, 2.7 million square mile basin (7 million square km) is home to the Amazon rainforest, the largest collection of living species on the planet.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a small vial of Amazon river water personally collected by Hans near Iquitos, Peru. Iquitos has the distinction of being the largest city on Earth which is only accessible by water or air.
15. STONEHENGE (Bluestone Quarry)
Of the numerous megalithic stone structures found throughout the British Isles and Continental Europe, Stonehenge is arguably the most famous. This ring of iconic stones was likely set in place around 2,500 BCE as part of a series of monuments, burial grounds, and ritual sites built in the same area over the course of thousands of years. Recent petrographic studies have closely linked chippings from the dolerite bluestones at Stonehenge to the quarry located at Craig Rhos-y-Felin.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of dolerite bluestone recovered downstream from the quarry at Craig Rhos-y-Felin. Located on the northern flank of the Preseli Mountains near Pembrokeshire, the Craig Rhos-y-Felin quarry was an active site for thousands of years, with the earliest known human encampments dating to 8,500 BCE.
16. MUMMY BEADS (1ST MILLENNIUM BCE)
For thousands of years, artisans in Egypt and Mesopotamia created vibrant ceramics to echo the beauty of rare jewels. Once known by the Egyptian word "tjehenet," or "that which shines", the rich colors and glass-like surface are thought to capture the visual essence of immortality.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a selection of mummy beads spanning several eras from the 1st millennium BCE. The beads were acquired from the former collection of Simon Ohan Simonian, an antiquities dealer in Alexandria, Egypt throughout the 20th century.
17. ROMAN BATH (HYPOCAUST FLUE)
For much of Roman history, bathing was more than a matter of hygiene; it was a complex social ritual enjoyed by nearly every class. Grand public works served the public at large, while wealthy citizens also had their own smaller, private baths. When heat was required for these facilities, the Romans relied on an ingenious system known as a hypocaust.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a section of Roman Hypocaust flue purchased from a private dealer of antiquities. This section of flue was part of a much larger system which consisted of a raised floor pitched on stacks of tiles. A furnace at the base level fed hot air into the gap beneath the floor which circulated and then rose up through the walls of the bath.
18. KNIGHT’S SWORD (c. 14TH CENTURY BCE)
Though many battles raged throughout the "long 13th century" of the High Middle Ages, scholars often refer to this century as a time of relative peace. This did not mean knights could retire on their estates. Eager kings looking to extend their authority, continued military campaigns to the Holy Land, and a growing professionalization of warfare all combined to keep the European knight reliant on the tools of their trade: horse, armor, and sword.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of a knight’s sword dating to the late 13th / early 14th century CE (Oakeshott Type XIIIa, Grans espeès d'Allemagne). For the last 200 years the sword was held in a private family collection in France until acquired by a private dealer of antique arms in the United Kingdom.
19. AZTEC EMPIRE (OBSIDIAN TOOL)
The history of human civilization in Mesoamerica spans thousands of years; numerous cultures connected by shared traditions in architecture, science, politics, religion, and warfare. Among the last in a long line, the Aztec Empire rose from an alliance of three city-states during a violent civil war at the beginning of the 15th century CE. This fast-growing empire came to encompass 80,000 square miles (207,000 square km) and more than 10,000,000 people. Aztec rule of the region came to an abrupt end in 1521 when the forces allied to the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés took control of the capital city of Tenochtitlán.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of an Aztec obsidian tool acquired from a private collection. Obsidian is a natural volcanic glass which can be polished to create a mirror-like finish. The material is harder than steel yet so brittle that it can be easily fractured to create clean, sharp edges ten times finer than modern scalpels.
20. LUSITANIA (Deck Chair)
On May 1st, 1915, the R.M.S. Lusitania departed from New York on a voyage to Liverpool with 1,959 passengers aboard, as well as munitions destined for the battlefields of the Great War. Though the Royal Navy had promised to escort the Lusitania for part of the journey, the escort never appeared. As one of the fastest ships in the world, this wasn't cause for alarm, but when the Lusitania entered Irish waters on May 7th it had to slow to navigate the foggy weather. A nearby German U-boat took advantage of this situation, torpedoing the ship twice which caused the hull to explode, and doomed 1,198 passengers.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from an oak deck chair which once graced the decks of the R.M.S. Lusitania. The chair was among the untold tonnes of flotsam and hundreds of bodies which washed ashore in Cobh, Ireland and was held on public display for decades. It was acquired at auction from Christie’s London office in late 2016.
21. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Fur Muff)
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a figure of tremendous importance in the first half of the 20th century. His long life straddled two very different centuries, a tumultuous period in which maps were redrawn and the world hovered several times on the brink of total annihilation.
Churchill held an ardent belief in the pre-eminence of Great Britain, and this would often guide his decisions and fuel his seemingly bottomless need for action. These two aspects of his person led Churchill to take positions which are difficult to reconcile favorably today. Yet, it was precisely such qualities which made Sir Winston the resolute leader the United Kingdom required during the dark years of the Second World War.
By the end of his life in 1965, Churchill had served nearly 64 years in parliament. He held numerous positions, including two turns as Prime Minister. Today, the "Bulldog of Britain" is considered by many to be one of the greatest Britons in history.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a section of a faux leopard-skin hand muff used for many years by Winston Churchill. Churchill was known to suffer from poor circulation in his later years, and often made use of a muff to keep his hands warm. This muff was purchased at auction in 2016 from Christie’s of London, and included a signed letter from Lady Soames, Churchill’s youngest daughter.
22. HOLLYWOOD SIGN
For nearly a century, the Hollywood sign has stood on the southern slope of Mount Lee overlooking the city of Los Angeles. The sign was originally built as a temporary advertisement for new homes in "Hollywoodland," but later became a bright beacon for those seeking stardom, and a symbol for the entertainment industry.
By the late-1970s, the sign had fallen into such disrepair that a complete replacement was required. The reconstruction was financed primarily by private fundraising efforts led by Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner. Hefner brought together an unlikely group of entertainers, from silver screen legend Gene Autry to theatrical shock rocker Alice Cooper, who each sponsored a letter in the new sign.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a two-piece fragment of the original Hollywood sign, salvaged during the 1978 reconstruction. It was acquired from the private collection of a retired Los Angeles sound engineer.
23. MANHATTAN PROJECT (Shield Window)
The Manhattan Project was the codename for the research and development effort which allowed the United States to rapidly develop a series of atomic breakthroughs during World War II, including the first industrial-scale plutonium production reactor and the first atomic bombs. This enormous project involved over one hundred thousand scientists, engineers, technicians, and construction workers at more than 30 sites across the United States, including well-known locations such as Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Trinity, and Hanford.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a leaded glass window installed in the T Plant (221-T) Plutonium Recovery Building at Hanford. Plutonium processed at the Hanford T-Plant was used in both the Trinity test on July 16, 1945 and in the "Fat Man" atomic bomb used over Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. The yellow color of the glass is due to a high concentration of lead-oxide (up to 70%), which blocks blue and near-UV spectral frequencies, and also gives the glass its protective qualities.
24. THE WHITE HOUSE (Brick)
Since John Adams took up residence on November 1st, 1800, every U.S. President has called the White House home. Not surprisingly, each resident has endeavored to leave their mark. Still, no matter who the occupant might be at any given time, or the changes they’ve made, the White House itself endures as a powerful symbol for the United States and the office of the Presidency.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment from a brick recovered during the extensive 1948-1952 renovation and expansion of the White House. This process generated an enormous amount of salvage material, some of which was used as landfill, but more attractive items became part of a popular public souvenir program designated by the Commission on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion.
25. MUHAMMAD ALI (PUNCHING BAG)
In 1964, a loud, handsome boxer from Louisville, Kentucky shocked the sporting world by beating the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. Ten days later, the new champion was introduced to the world by a new name: Muhammad Ali.
But Muhammad Ali was far more than a boxing legend. His conversion to Islam and association with the Nation of Islam became a lightning rod for opinion across the United States. Later, his opposition to the war in Vietnam and direct engagement with civil rights issues catapulted him into a world far beyond the ring.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a punching bag formerly used by Muhammad Ali. Known as a double-end or "crazy" bag, this particular type of punching bag is used to improve accuracy, speed, and endurance. The bag was gifted to a long-time sports commentator and friend of Muhammad Ali, and later purchased at auction by Mini Museum.
26. CONCORDE (JET ROTOR)
On January 1, 1976, the Concorde became the first supersonic commercial aircraft in history. For nearly thirty years, these magnificent aircraft cruised at altitudes twice as high as their subsonic counterparts, twice the speed of sound, and with ticket prices twice the price of their most expensive luxury rivals.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment from a flown, high-pressure compressor vane, an integral part of the four turbojet engines that allowed the Concorde to cruise above Mach 2. Produced by Britain's Rolls Royce and Snecma Moteurs of France, the Olympus 593 Mk 610 were the most powerful transport certified engines in the world at the time of their introduction.
27. ROUGH SAPPHIRE (Myanmar)
Dazzling and durable, sapphires are among the most popular gemstones in the world. They form very slowly inside cooling igneous and metamorphic rocks as metals seep into clear aluminum oxide crystals, changing their color. Traces of Titanium result in a blue hue while the presence of iron results in the color yellow. Any color except red is considered a sapphire, while red, indicating the presence of Chromium, is considered a ruby.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a rough sapphire from Myanmar's Mogok Metamorphic Belt, also known as the "Valley of Gems". Stretching over 930 miles (1500 km), this region has yielded some of the world’s greatest rubies, jade, and sapphires.
28. FIRST SPACE SHUTTLE (COLUMBIA FLOWN TILE)
On April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia roared to life on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A. Solid rocket boosters and Columbia’s own engines delivered more than 6,600,000 pounds of thrust, lifting the crew of two and 4,500,000 pounds (2,000,000 kg) of dreams into orbit at more than 17,500 miles per hour (28,163 kmh). The successful launch and return of Columbia heralded a new age in space exploration.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a fragment of a mission flown High-Temperature Reusable Surface Insulation Tile (HRSI) that was once attached to the Space Shuttle Columbia. NASA disposition paperwork accompanying the tile indicates it was removed after Columbia’s 7th mission, STS-61-C, which flew on January 12, 1986.
29. HUMAN HEART
Man has understood the importance of the heart since as far back as the Greek Dark Ages when physicians like Hippocrates of Kos theorized about its purpose. The human heart is the first organ to develop in vitro. It is made of muscle tissue that works twice as hard as the muscles that support movement. Over the course of an average human life the heart will beat 2.5 billion times, and at death the heart is one of the last organs to stop functioning.
The specimen in the Mini Museum is a human heart recovered from a 74 year-old woman who passed away due to non-cardiac related natural causes. The heart was prepared by a laboratory which uses plastination techniques to preserve anatomical specimens for various exhibits and medical research purposes worldwide. Due to a mishap during preparation which caused a long tear along the surface of the left atrium, the heart was considered undesirable for most technical purposes.
Please Note: Additional information about all of the specimens and larger images of the Fourth Edition can be found on our website at minimuseum.com.
Risks and challenges
Since 2014, we've delivered thousands of Mini Museums to more than 70 countries around the world, so we have a good handle on the risks associated with the project. Still, creating a Mini Museum is an extremely complex process.
Each specimen in the Mini Museum has its own unique challenges, and the scale of the project may lead to unexpected delays. We've taken every step possible to mitigate potential issues while always keeping the focus on the quality of the end product. As with past projects, we plan to provide detailed and timely project updates to keep backers advised, informed, educated, and at times entertained.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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