Written by IainB
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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

image for New Museum in Oldham charts the rise of the Zebra Crossing
Although it is rare a zebra has such perfect stripes

Lottery funding has been secured to create the world's first Zebra Crossing Museum in Oldham, near Manchester.

"We think the time is right to examine the history of the Zebra Crossing," said curator, Trevor Lichtenstein. "This is a very interesting subject, and will sit comfortably alongside some of the North West's other niche museums. Such as the football museum in Preston and the Lawnmower Museum in Southport."

The museum is to be sited in Oldham, the home of the first Zebra crossing ever created, and will chart the rise of the popular item of street furniture, from the 1800s incarnation in Oldham, to the amazingly complicated ones installed in Tokyo and New York.

"Many people do not realise," said Lichtenstein, "but all Zebra crossings in the world are manufactured in Oldham, and we still retain the patent."

As well as a reconstruction of Tokyo's iconic Zebra crossing, there will be examples of early crossings that fell by the wayside as the Zebra crossing gained popularity such as the Panda Crossing, which was two blocks of white regardless of the width of the road, and the tiger crossing that was orange and black stripes.

"We believe people fell in love with the Zebra Crossing because of it's simplicity, visibility and ability to stretch across any width of road."

Other less known crossings, like the Aardvark Crossing, have also been recreated.

"We have no examples of an Aardvark crossing anywhere else in the world," said Lichtenstein, "and there are no remaining pictures, so we had to provide our best guess as to how it would have looked."

Not everybody is as ecstatic at the opening of Zebra Crossing Museum as Lichtenstein. Charles De Montford Green, the curator of the Pelican Crossing Museum in nearby Rochdale, believes it will take trade away from his museum.

"Who wants to see some painted stripes?" he scoffed. "Pelican and Puffin crossings are the future. And they are a lot more interesting than paint."

Lichtenstein believes his rival is deluded. "Pelican crossings maybe the future," he said. "Unfortunately for him, museums are about the past."

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