In This Museum, It's OK If The Displays Collect Dust

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A 1955 Electrolux Model LX one of the more than 750 vacuum cleaners at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Mo. It was advertised as "The Cleaner You Never Have To Empty," says museum curator Tom Gasko, because the bag got pushed out the machine's door when it got full.

The Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Mo., might be the only place where having a collection that sucks is considered a compliment.

Tom Gasko, the museum's curator and a former door-to-door vacuum salesman, offers guided tours through nearly a century and a half of vacuum cleaner history. The oldest ones date back to just after the Civil War.

"The original vacuum cleaners were developed before there were motors," Gasko says. "The first ones used a crank kind of like an eggbeater."

The museum houses more than 750 vacuum cleaners. The first electric machines came out in the early 1900s, and Gasko has a few that still work. One of his favorites was made in January of 1910.

"He's 106 and a half years old," he says.

To hear Gasko fire it up — and also hear the whir of others in his collection — click on the audio.

Morning Edition is visiting unsung museums all across the county, those little-known but ridiculously interesting gems you're glad you stumbled across.

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