The Spam Museum
Renovated K-Mart
Austin, Minn.


As you pull into Austin, MN, you begin to see billboards along the highway advertising the Spam Museum. The billboards say things like "The Spam Museum-- Even we don't really understand," and "The Spam Museum-- Yes, we do answer the ingredients question." This sense of humor carries over into the actual museum, the shrine to the canned meat that is produced and packaged right there in Austin, Minnesota, otherwise known as Spam Town, USA.

The museum is in a renovated K-Mart building. The renovation on this building has barely left a trace of the original use. In fact, the actual shell of the structure is all that is left of the old K-Mart. Windows, doors, walls, ceilings, and the entire exterior have all been completely overhauled.

K-Mart moved out of the building on Main Street in Austin to move a new building on the edge of town many years ago. This location sat empty for many years, and as a result, the entire end of town began to decline in business, and eventually in value. A grocery store across the street also closed down, leaving another empty big box across the street for many years.

The decor in the Spam Museum has a retro flair, a throw back to the 40's and 50's-- Spam was first introduced in 1937.

The wall of Spam is made up of thousands of cans of Spam.

The Cyber Cafe exhibit is an interactive exhibit about Spam.

The Spam Museum opened in this location in September of 2001. Prior to existing in this location, the museum was a small 800 square foot space in a retail mall in Austin. When it was time to move into a bigger and better space, there were several options available. They chose the old K-Mart for two reasons that seem to be prevalent in every big box purchase: location, and price. The abandoned K-Mart was in a prime location in town, easy to get to from everywhere, and happened to be just a half a mile from other Hormel offices.
The pig theme can be seen in the doors outside of the theater. The handles make the nosee of a pig, with windows for the eyes. Clouds forming flying pigs...
And the cost efficiency was a factor, as it usually is-- it is generally cheaper to renovate the big box than it is to build from the ground up. The building is 33,000 square feet- 16,500 for the Spam Museum, 16,500 for official Hormel offices. There are 35 employees in the museum, and about 200 employees in the offices. Roughly 100,000 people visit the Spam Museum every year, and the guest register from last year shows people from all 50 states in the USA, every province in Canada, and 53 countries.
A statue of Mr. Hormel himself. He began this Hormel business in 1891. Surrounding businesses have benefited greatly from the arrival of the museum. This diner right across the street offers a Spam-filled menu.
The Spam Museum takes up half of the 32,000 sq. foot renovated K-Mart. The Hormel Headquarters sits in the other 16,000 sq. feet.
The town of Austin, MN -otherwise known as Spam Town USA- shows pride in their Spam heritage. Exhibits include information about World War II, and the important historical role that Spam played in this war, feeding the troops of the United States.




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