Washington Banana Museum staffer Benjamin Bigford holds a banana cello.
Ann Mitchell Lovell loves bananas a bunch. “I blame my parents,” she says. “Growing up they called me Anna Banana, and it put a seed in my head.”
Since then, the curator of the online Washington Banana Museum has gathered nearly 6,000 items related to the nation’s top-selling fruit, including a neon banana light, vintage Chiquita posters, and 1960s lapel buttons emblazoned with the words SMOKE MORE BANANAS.
Although Lovell keeps most of her banana memorabilia at home, she shares a rotating selection of her ripest finds at a collectibles shop aptly named Bananas Antiques in Auburn, Wash. Visitors can see tintypes of stern-faced Victorians holding bushels of bananas, sheet music for the 1926 song “I’ve Never Seen a Straight Banana,” and Lovell’s favorite, a fiberglass Chiquita cello, complete with bridge and f-holes.
“It’s not really a viable musical instrument,” she says. “A cellist for the Auburn Symphony Orchestra played it and it sounded really bad.” Perhaps bananas are simply better suited for meals than music. “I have one with my lunch every day,” Lovell says. (253) 804-8041, bananamuseum.com.
Photography by Paul Solders
This article was first published in March 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.