Found: A home for the International Banana Museum collection, formerly of Altadena



AOL News is reporting today that the 17,000-piece International Banana Museum collection has found a home, after being cast into proverbial exile by the Hesperia Recreation & Parks District, which decided it needed back its rent-free city space.

The museum was first opened in Altadena by “Top Banana” Ken Bannister. It’s been in Hesperia since 2005.

(The photo of Bannister, above, was taken in 1998 in Altadena. He’s holding a banana putter.)

More photos — and the new home of the International Banana Museum — after the jump.


Bannister has tried at least a couple times over the years to sell his entire collection on eBay, but never got any bids. A recent online auction was no different: there were no bidders, even after the minimum was dropped from $45,000 to $7,500, reports AOL News contributor Scott Martelle.

From this week’s Citybeats column in the Star-News:

A December 1999 story in the Star-News reported that Bannister had put up for sale his 17,000-item collection of “banana lights, clocks, golf-putters, banana soap, shampoo and soda, banana pipes, tobacco, lip gloss, toothbrushes, popcorn, eight-foot banana sofa, gold-sequinned Michael Jackson banana and the infamous petrified banana, which Bannister says he will be sorriest to part with,” plus name.

He hoped to attract “someone like Bill Gates.”

Now, the Garbutt family in Coachella Valley has come to the rescue of the endangered collection, after hearing about Bannister and his bananas on national news reports from the Wall Street Journal and NPR. The family, which runs a liquor store in a near-deserted town at the edge of the Salton Sea, is now the proud proprietor of the International Banana Museum.
From AOL News:

They have grand plans, Fred Garbutt said. Right now there’s a small bar in space they own next to the liquor store. When its lease expires at the end of the year, yellow glasses of lager will be replaced by bananas. Lots of bananas. And they hope to park a yellow-painted sports car outside. Anything to catch the eye, and the occasional tourist buck.

Bannister, who will retain his “Top Banana” title, is also keeping the International Banana Club.
Fred Garbutt will settle with “Big Banana,” and his mother, Virginia Garbutt, with “Banana Nana.”
Below, Bannister in Altadena in 1999, when he first tried to sell his collection in an eBay auction.
Below, Bannister and his collection in 2006, after moving to Hesperia.
The photos below are from some sort of Arcadia supermarket promotion, featuring Bannister, in which they were aiming to break a world record for number of bananas on display. 
Miss Chiquita Banana was there, too.
(Staff file photos)

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