I found out about the museum from a cryptic ad in the Yellowpages and called to schedule an appointment. The museum is a private residence in Pasadena so only a few people can visit at a time. How could I pass up a chance to rub noses with 22,000 bunnies crammed into a 1400 square foot home?
The 15 foot tall bunny topiary on the tiny front lawn was our first clue - this was going to be weird.
The owner, Candace greeted us at the door. She was wearing fire-engine red lipstick which popped against her platinum hair and white dress with red polka dots. Before I could blink, my two year old made a break for it and disappeared inside to bunny hell. By the time I caught up to her she had already flung at least 10 bunnies from their shelves and was sticking another one in the pouch of her sweatshirt. We had better make this quick.
First a peek at the live rabbits. Five bunnies sat mournfully in the pantry surrounded by bunny themed pinatas, bunny shaped cooking tins, and fake easter grass. Our magi's gift of a mushy apple was coolly rejected. We understood. It would be difficult to eat with their six of their deceased colleagues including "Buddy Bunny" staring down at them with glass eyes.
Given my daughter's reckless mood, we moved to the back yard. There were enormous deteriorating rabbits scavenged from parade floats, bunny benches, bunny stepping stones, bunny statuary and everything else that was too big to fit inside. The sideyard was devoted to the wounded. There is no way to describe the creepiness of rabbit shrapnel. Their wounds ranged from the mild to the obscene: missing limbs, empty eye sockets, cracked skulls and unrecognizable shards. These people obviously hadn't heard about trash day.
After Pixie got some of her wiggles out we ventured back inside. Candace explained the history of the museum. Her husband gave her a stuffed rabbit on Valentine's day back in 1993. Soon after, they started exchanging bunnies on every major holiday. Then, like any normal couple would do, they began giving each other a bunny every single day as "love tokens."
By 1999 they had accumulated over 8,000 bunnies and wrote The Guinness Book of World Records in hopes that they had the largest collection of bunny items in the world. They did and were rewarded with a humble little plaque which graces their front hall. Their strange obsession validated, over the next 7 years they managed to stuff another 14,000 rabbits into their home.
Remember all those movies where the toys come to life and eat young children in the middle of the night? I was pretty sure that if we didn't get back to our car by sunset we would be similarly disposed of. We quickly made the rounds inside with our bleached docent trailing us, pointing out the crowd favorites. The rabbits were clustered into theme groups. Salt and pepper shaker bunnies. Bride and groom bunnies. Stuffed bunnies. Bunny snow globes. Puppet bunnies. Japanese bunnies. Other animals dressed up like bunnies. Bunny stamps. My neat-freak alter-ego was hissing wild suggestions into my ear. One small match would make the whole place disappear. Or I could let loose a dozen puppies in the house after midnight and hope for the best. Try as I might to appreciate this woman's mania, I couldn't stop trying to diagnose the mental illness who's side effect includes "the compulsion to live among rabbits."
Another appointment was just arriving - two young women who were clearly as obsessed with rabbits as the owner. Although we had only been there for about ten minutes, we seized the chance to slip out. As we headed for the front door Candace gave me a sad smile and told me these two women were planning on staying for at least two hours to view the entire collection. I used every parent's favorite excuse, my daughter, and apologized for our brief visit. "Come back when your little girl is older!" she suggested. I promised we would, checked my feet for bunny poop and made a break for our car.
If you live in the area, you must visit at least once for the obligatory photo op. But for heaven's sake, get out before sunset or you may not live to get your film developed.