Asphalt 101

Michael Stockinger

There are plenty of museums in Sacramento: the Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento, the Crocker Art Museum, Discovery Museum Science & Space Center, and others.

What many don’t know is that Sacramento State houses the smallest, oddest museum of them all, a parody of a museum called the World-Famous Asphalt Museum.

Tucked away in the corner of Associate Professor Scott Gordon’s office, next to multiple bookshelves full of computer books, across from the pictures of people playing table tennis, near the picture of Einstein, and next to his computer desk, is the museum on a three-tiered bookshelf.Therein lay the pieces of asphalt, with information of where they came from, who donated them, and the year they were added to the collection.

Gordon, a computer science instructor, created the museum during grad school as a parody of other museums after going on road trips and seeing the odd museums that were scattered throughout the country.

“I liked travel but I didn’t have much money,” Gordon said.

“I remember passing a barbed-wire museum, but the oddest was a helicopter museum in Kansas. There were no helicopters in the museum, but the room that housed it was where the first helicopter took off,” Gordon said with a laugh.

Gordon said he and his girlfriend then, decided to create their own museum.

“I decided I wanted my own museum then, but I didn’t know what of,” Gordon said.

The couple brainstormed for ideas on what the museum could display, settling on a grass clippings museum, but realizing that the collection would disintegrate.

They then came up with the idea of an asphalt museum and decided to go on a road trip, gathering pieces of asphalt from Interstate 70, Highway 1, Highway 50 and Gordon’s favorite, Highway 66.”We traveled and took pieces of asphalt up with screwdrivers,” Gordon said.

Later, while teaching at Sonoma State University, Gordon even made a Web site for the museum, and that’s when things began to get strange.