More toilets in India: the Museum of Toilets

Martha’s post on the World Toilet Summit in New Delhi reminded me of the one museum I wanted to go to in New Delhi, but never took the time. The Museum of Toilets is wonderful, according to a good friend of mine. He went on and on about it. The museum is a lot more than one toilet after another. As you might imagine, there’s a huge history about toilets that dates back to 2500 B.C. when the world’s first drainage system was put in. Taxes on toilets first happened in 69 A.D. and the first public toilet showed up in 1214 A.D.

And if you’ve ever been to a bathroom showroom, even today, there are many ways for a toilet to flush. I remember when I went to Denmark, my first experience living in another country, I was intrigued by the way the toilets flushed there and by the rules of toilet use. In Denmark you put the lid down when you’re done. The Museum of Toilets also gets into toilet use etiquette along with toilet design. Toilet politics is another big topic–who gets to use them and who doesn’t. Who cleans them. I don’t know if this is included in the subject matter, but I just thought of it. How many bathrooms are in a house? Over three and the assumption is that homeowner has some serious cash. Two and a half is a luxury. (The one in the photo is a replica of King Louis IIIV from the museum’s Web page.)

If you can’t make it to the museum, the Web site is fascinating read. Along with the overview of toilet use and societies there’s a section that highlights the history of particular toilets, photographs included. There is even poetry. This verse was written in the Middle Ages about Paris.

“My shoes my stockings, my overcoat
My collar, my glove, my hat
Have all been soiled by the same substance
I would mistake myself rubbish”

With what to do with human waste a large part of every society’s problems, the museum’s subject is a serious one to consider.