The Door Museum

When I was a child growing up just outside Olympus, one of my favourite places to go was The Door Museum. For those of you who don't know, it's a quirky museum that contains only doors. But the best thing about it for us kids was that you didn't just look at the doors, you could go through them. You would move from room to room, reading the plaques or listening to a guided tour, choosing each door you would go through.

Today I decided, on a whim, to go back.

It's always a bit worrisome, visiting somewhere that you were enchanted by as a child. You wonder if it will be really as good as you remember, or whether it will be kitsch or childish, or you'll see through the illusion and the golden memory will be gone forever. Because of this, I went alone. I didn't really want anyone tagging along into my childhood memories.

The Door Museum isn't much to look at outside. It's inside an old factory that stands only just inside a respectable part of the city. One block east of the museum and things start getting shady. After lunch, I took the train there and walked from the station with a few families. When I saw the building, and I'm not exaggerating, I actually teared up. I hadn't remembered the entrance doors until I got there but the memory the sight triggered was very strong. There are five doors, all of a different kind: a rotating door, a motion-sensor door, a door from an old house on Earth, a round door with a knob right in the middle, and right in the middle a medieval portcullis that I remember was open on special occasions.

I froze before the doors with all the children, completely transported back to being three or four years old (that's six-eight in Earth years, roughly), spoilt for choice by these doors. I distinctly remember running in and out them all, my hands making smudges off the glass of the rotating door. There were children doing that today. For old time's sake, I went through all four doors, leaving the rotating door for last.

I bought my ticket and went through the huge beautifully carved stone door from Ancient Egypt (replica, naturally) into the hall of doors.

It really is how I remember. Real doors, replicas, fictional doors from stories modern and ancient, some more passages or arches than doors, sliding doors, trapdoors, vehicle doors, airlocks, and some that are not really ordinary doors at all- there's a backless wardrobe from some old tale. Each room is somewhat themed to the two, three, four or five doors that open onto it. One like a forest, another a space vessel, another from early Mars complete with peach sky above.

There's one room, buried deep in the middle, with only one door. The door itself is small and unassuming (I'm not going to tell you where; you will have to find it for yourself). I remembered it but it took me a while to find. You pull up the hatch and push the door and it opens with a hiss. You crawl through it and on the other side there is darkness. It's a huge spherical room, dotted with constellations and planets and the sun. You're standing on a glass grate above Mars, looking down at the turning planet as it is today, blue and orange and red.

I'm not sure if I am particularly tired today, or perhaps its the impending completion of my degree and thus two years of my life combined with the flood of childhood memories of that room, but standing in the darkness looking down at my planet with the globe of universe around me, it was pretty hard to swallow the lump in my throat. Perhaps I am simply over sentimental, heh.

Anyway, the Door Museum is an incredible place, and meant much more to me today as a grown-up. I wasn't the only adult exploring it- because that's what you do; explore it. In some ways, it's like a miniaturisation of the world. All the possible doors, all the possible options- and there are some doors that are difficult to find, or easy to pass by because they look so mundane. The only way not to enjoy it is to sit in the first room and not go anywhere.

Anyway, so I just (well, plus the time it took me to write this) got back. And it was as I remembered. And it was fabulous.

Your explorer,