There’s a place in Portland that honors an invention that, to be honest, really sucks. An invention that left the broom in the dust, way back when. We’re talking about the good old vacuum cleaner — and you can pay your respects to its history (while also shopping for a new one) at Stark’s Vacuum Museum.
Mounted on the showroom wall of Stark’s 107 NE Grand Ave. location is a timeline of the vacuum cleaner’s history and a curated display of old models dating as far back as the late 19th century. In all, the museum has more than 300 machines, all of which were either donated or traded in.
Some are archaic-but-obvious ancestors of the sleek Dysons we’re familiar with, while others look more like mouse droids from “Star Wars.” One of the machines — a 1910 Cyclone vacuum — had to be operated by two people; another doubled as a hairdryer. The horror.
Stark’s Vacuums has a long history of its own. Founder Clarence Stark opened a refurbishing shop in Portland in 1932. The business grew into a full-fledged vacuum cleaner store + moved to its current location in the 1960s. The museum opened about a decade later.
Why you should go: There aren’t many places left in the world where you can see a mid-century Hoover Constellation vacuum cleaner that glided on air like something straight out of “The Jetsons.” You can shop for a new Hoover or Dirt Devil + get educated on the decades of innovations that led to their modern design. Or just stop in to have a look at one of Portland’s quirky museums. It’s free, after all — just be sure to wipe your shoes when you come in.