Broken links are strewn throughout the internet, digital dead ends created by lost archives, website revamps, or just sloppy typing. Some museums simply have standard “page not found!” text on their 404 error pages or built-in redirects to their home pages. But other institutions are more playful with bad URLs, using art from their collections or that they’ve exhibited to visualize the mistake: for example, the New Museum’s 404 page features a Maurizio Cattelan horse whose head is lost in a wall. (Cattelan is a bit of a 404 favorite, with his dead Pinocchio in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum appearing on that institution’s page.) A few museums offer a small easter egg, including San Francisco’s Exploratorium, which links to instructions for building a camera obscura, and the Seattle Art Museum, which has an embedded video of a baby seal filmed at its Olympic Sculpture Park. Still others take the opportunity to provide some on-brand humor, like London’s Natural History Museum, whose 404 page shows a stegosaurus skeleton above the text, “That page may have evolved or become extinct,” and Houston’s National Museum of Funeral History, which states, “You have made a grave mistake!” over an image of a coffin.
Below are 30 of the best museum 404 pages out there. Know of one we missed? Add it in the comments!
Steven Heller’s latest edition of The Swastika and Symbols of Hate begs the question: if one were truly interested in divesting the symbol of its power, would it not be better to let it fall into the dustbin of history?