The Museum's most popular device was the Psycograph, an antique phrenology machine. Phrenology, created by Austrian physician Franz Joseph Gall, was the 'in theory' of the 19th century for determining personality. According to phrenology, different parts of the brain were "organs" controlling various character traits. If your head is bigger in an area, you have more of that trait. But if it's flat, there's nothing in there!
The Psycograph was patented in 1905
by Henry Lavery of Superior WI.
A quarter century later, still building phrenology machines, Mr. Lavery recruited Mr. Frank P. White as an investor and began doing business as the Psycograph Company in the Builders Exchange, Minneapolis MN.
The psycographs were a novelty device featured in department stores and theatre lobbies during the Great Depression . The Psycograph Company operated from 1929-1937.
Left: Phrenology in the 1990's at the Museum of Questionable Devices. Above right: Woman and phrenologist from Psycograph advertisement, ca. 1932.
"You Ought to Have Your Head Examined"
That's our motto! Over the years at our Riverplace and St. Anthony Main locations, several hundren thousand museum visitors got their heads 'examined' in Henry Lavery's antique phrenology machines.