The American Sanitary Plumbing Museum
Unusual Exhibit Features the Fixtures at the Business End of the Pipe

1158 American Sanitary Plumbing Museum Photo courtesy of ASPM

THE AMERICAN SANITARY PLUMBING MUSEUM is located in an area of Worcester, Massachusetts in which plumbing supply houses seem much in evidence, and is an offshoot of one plumbing distributor there, Charles Manoog, Inc.. The main (second) story of this two-story building houses a collection of plumbing contraptions of all kinds, such as wooden water mains, toilets, elaborate showerheads, water heaters, sitz & foot baths, bath tubs, basins, examples of complex under-the-sink drain configurations, & toilet-paper dispensers, all from before our time. Here too are a very impressive run of a plumbing trade magazine from the teens well into the thirties of this century, and a library of plumbing supply catalogues and books on sanitary plumbing. The curator, Bettejane Manoog, confesses to reading the old magazines with understandable interest when the press of visitors slackens.

The lower floor of the Museum contains other household sanitation devices, including a very early Kohler dishwasher, but is devoted mostly to the tools of the plumbing trade, including manual and motor-driven pipe threaders, wrenches, leadworking tools, and fittings.

The Museum honors a trade, and is only incidentally (but not unconsciously) about the curiosity of using water to dispose of human waste. The Museum also plays a role in the education of future plumbers at area trade schools. The directors of the Museum are in contact with other of the world's plumbing-related museums in Europe and, notably, India.

Field Report by John McVey

The Museum is open Tuesday through Thursday, 10-2, or by appointment. A number of items from the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum collection were on display in an exhibit at the MIT List Museum in 1992, entitled The Process of Elimination: the Kitchen, the Bathroom, and the Aesthetics of Waste, curated by Ellen Lupton & J. Abbott Miller.