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At 96, Texas Toilet Seat Artist Closes Shop

Nick B

Barney Smith is a man of many talents.  The master plumber turned artist and museum curator has spent the last 70 years building the Toilet Seat Art Museum from the ground up.  Unfortunately it’s time for the for the “King of the Commode” to step down from his throne.



At 96 most people have been retired for quite a while and so has Barney, from being a plumber.  His hobby turned profession is another story.  The museum was born while he was at a supply shop back in the 1940s, picking up the things he needed for the day’s jobs.  He noticed a pile of toilet seats waiting to be thrown out, got permission to take them himself, and began to build his collection.  Those 50 seats were the seed that has now grown into an assembly of over 1,300 unique and hand crafted art pieces.  Each work is special to Barney and almost every one has a detailed story behind it.  Having spent countless hours crafting, maintaining, and overseeing the collection, Barney has a deep connection with his work, but has accepted that in his age he is not longer able to properly watch over his work.  So he is offering it up to anyone who will give it the attention it deserves, as long as it will remain open to any and all who wish to visit.  Ideally it will stay put in Alamo Heights, Texas, but Barney is willing to let it go to the proper home regardless of location.  Sometimes when you truly love something, you have to let it go.  For it’s sake.  Watch the video below for more about Barney and the Museum.


Barney is a great ambassador for the trades.  A hard working, self made man who made a career in the trade, retired but never lost his work ethic and drive, and pivoted into a second career working on his art.  If you want to see other ambassadors of the trade like Barney, check out our Trade Life series.  When working on your next job be sure to stop by, we have all the plumbing, heating, and HVAC products you will need.  Even toilet seats if you are looking to start your own collection!

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