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Many visitors are curious about the person who started the museum, so . . . .
 

At left, Harry Finley, founder and former director of the physical MUM in his house, and creator of this Web site.

Many years ago I painted this self-portrait in my kitchen, in Heidelberg, Germany, (in oil, looking into a mirror) before I lost much of my hair, not entirely due to the effort required to create and develop this museum.

During World War II, in 1942, I was born in Long Branch, New Jersey - Winslow Homer, maybe America's greatest artist, once limned the beach, famous in his time - where my mother was waiting for my father to return from the war in the South Pacific.

I attended nine schools in the twelve years before high school graduation, including three high schools, so peripatetic because of my father's career in the Army. He was a colonel, an engineer, and a West Point and Cornell graduate, who oversaw the construction of the largest building in the world (the VAB), by volume, at Cape Kennedy, Florida. My older brother and fellow artist, George, long the leading caricaturist of the Army, also graduated from West Point. My father's brother, my namesake, wrote witty newspaper columns in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and HIS father, Alexander Finley, president of a five-state newspaper circulation association, thought up the Miss America contest. Muscular dystrophy crippled and at 21 killed my little brother, Jim, who remarkably loved to laugh - but wit helped him tolerate the intolerable.

Read about what almost broke me as a teenager but throws light on the creation of this museum.

And read a bit about my mother ("And a Letter From Your MUM to You").

Besides having a B.A. in philosophy from Johns Hopkins - so what else could I do but start a museum of menstruation? - I dabbled in masters degrees in German, geology and philosophy but woke up and fled to Europe before finishing them to work mostly as an self-taught artist. By the way, my older brother now earns much of his living as a watercolorist and oil painter, in Germany, Scotland and in the U.S.A., besides voluntarily collecting and driving tons of medical supplies and toilets to Ukraine in his spare time (Rotary International gave him an award for that) and founding the first Ukrainian solar energy organization; he's illustrating a book about solar energy for Ukrainian children. Recently he established the American section of the town museum of Schwäbisch Hall, Germany, and contributed documentary footage to a German TV film about the end of World War II. My brother has inspired me since we were kids.

I clung to Germany 13 years, mostly as a graphic designer, cartoonist, painter and illustrator, and in the 1980s returned, with regret - still fresh - to the United States, where I made graphics for the federal government in Washington, D.C., until my retirement in 2004. Now I paint portraits, read, and work on MUM, with the goal of establishing MUM again as a physical museum. (See much more of my art here.)

The histories of astronomy (especially spectroscopy in the 19th and early 20th centuries) and medicine fascinate me, as do languages (I read a few, speak two and am teaching myself Japanese), cultural history, biography, painting (mainly faces), creating picture-stories, making cartoons for people, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and sitting around, dreaming stuff up. I usually walk miles every day.

Actually, if I had had the chance to pick my genes and interests, I would now be creating classical music, which I love, but haven't a tune's worth of talent for.

Read more in my entry in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.

How does this qualify you to run a museum of menstruation?

I had the nerve to create it, buttressed by my interest in the cultural history of menstruation. And I researched and constructed exhibits by trade. MUM was my first Web site.

Before I started MUM, I had to decide if I wanted to suffer the criticism it would of course bring (and criticized I have been); the enterprise had to be worth it. I've had no reason to regret my MUM, although it's been hard. (Read my plans for the future public museum.)

Man muß sich für eine gute Sache eben beleidigen lassen. - Stefan Zweig
"One must be willing to suffer insults for a good cause." (My translation.) Stefan Zweig, Austrian Jew, the most translated writer in the world in the late 1930s, was a fabulous writer, especially of short biographies. He killed himself before the war was over, having fled from country to country to country. He thought the Nazis would win.


homepageMUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads
© 1998, 2001, 2006 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute any of the work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to hfinley@mum.org