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Small Wonders: Collection has multiplied like rabbits

March 02, 2013|By Patrick Caneday
(Patrick Caneday…)

It's hard to take a place seriously that bills itself as “the hoppiest place on Earth.”

But when it comes to keeping my preteen daughters happy, entertained and out of prison, I'll take anything seriously.

I am all about high culture and stuff like that. So a few weeks ago, I decided to introduce them and a couple of their friends to some of the more highfalutin' sites near us. But since we're on the restricted list at most of the traditional museums — who knew the caveman diorama at the Natural History Museum wasn't scratch-and-sniff? — I had to search for something off-the-beaten path to enlighten them.

That's how I found — somewhere on a list between the Los Angeles Police Museum and the Museum of Death — the Bunny Museum.

You'd think a museum devoted to all things bunny would either be a joke or the subject of “Hoarders Gone Wild.” But it is neither. Curators Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski have taken a sweet, personal sentiment and turned it into an ever-expanding phenomenon.

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Since it's in their Pasadena home, it is a “living museum,” and visits are by appointment only. I called and luckily was able to get in the same day.

“Have a hoppy day!” chimed Candace when we hung up. And I know she meant it.

It's not hard to find, just look for the enormous shrub sculpture of a bunny on the front lawn, remnants of a Rose Parade float. After handing over five “bunny bucks” per person and getting a brief introduction to the museum's history and rules, we were free to roam the hallowed — and cluttered — halls.

When you cram nearly 30,000 bunny-related collectibles — plush toys, ceramics, marionettes, chocolate… anything — into a modest-sized home, floor-to-ceiling, there's not a lot of wiggle room. That's what happens when the gift-giving of sweethearts multiplies like, well, rabbits.

The collection started 21 years ago. “Steve gave me one (a bunny gift) on Valentine's Day,” said Candace, who speaks with the readiness of a tracked rabbit. “Then I gave him one at Easter. Then it became every holiday.” 

And so on until they were giving each other a bunny gift every single day. Still do.

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