Ahrensburg, Germany: The flour sack as art and artifact
In 1998, Volkmar Wywiol, the head of a German company that makes industrial baking products, was strolling on a Dubai beach when he happened upon a washed-up flour sack with a distinctive Emirati design. He dried it out and took it back to Germany, and an idea was born.
Wywiol's Flour Art Museum in Ahrensburg, about a half hour's drive northeast of Hamburg, is now the largest collection of flour sacks on the planet—browse its central exhibit, the Sackotheque, is essentially a cultural history of the last couple hundred years through flour. More than 1,900 sacks from 115 countries are meticulously preserved and annotated with information.
The graphics of these everyday objects are beautiful, and packed with significance speaking to the time and place: Check out sacks heavy with religious symbolism (big in Spain), a zoo's worth of animal motifs meant to suggest overpowering strength (lots of elephants and lions, some buffalo), and nods to technology like a steam-powered locomotive or giant computer.
You can take home a copy of the gorgeous "Art and Flour" exhibition catalogue, and you can even make milling history: Got an interesting sack? They want it.