Past the outskirts of Rome, in a small ramshackle suburb called Dragona, is a museum like no other.
Domenico Agostinelli. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
A combination photo shows items collected by Agostinelli, displayed in his museum in Dragona. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
"I'm a guardian of time," says Domenico Agostinelli, the rather slapdash museum's 74-year-old founder, owner, and sole employee.
Agostinelli has added to his scattered, expansive, and whimsical collection for more than 60 years. And today, it includes 3,200 umbrellas, more than three million stamps, a 65-million-year-old dinosaur egg, and a car that once belonged to American mob boss Al Capone. While such artifacts sound more like yesterday's trash than tomorrow's treasures, well, that is exactly the point. Agostinelli says, unlike most museums built to showcase wealth and prestige, his museum is as a testimony to the humble and the hardworking.
And that heartwarmingly unpretentious motivation is reflected in his favorite display piece — a barrel filled with 1.5 million buttons.
"Every evening, before I close the museum, I put my hands in a barrel of buttons and I release all the negative tension of the day," he says. "Buttons hold onto the positive energy of the people who possessed them."
Below, images of Agostinelli's crazy, chaotic, and cherished world.
Agostinelli scoops up just some of the millions of buttons on display in his museum. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Political memorabilia. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
A collection of umbrellas. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Wooden, iron, and plastic hands. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Religious figures. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Eyeglasses. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
A sampling of Agostinelli's toy collection. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Fans and other objects are displayed on shelves. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Agostinelli poses in his museum with a selection of his globes. | (REUTERS/Tony Gentile)