Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Museum of the Week – The Button Museum

Posted 11/22/2010 4:59:00 PM

In the movie Holiday Inn, Bing Crosby comes up with a wacky scheme to open an inn that will only be opened on holidays, giving him 300+ days a year to loaf around. When the inn opens, one of the reviews says, “Don’t ask why, just go – and God bless America!”

Those words rang through my ears when I stepped into the Button Museum in Bishopville.

About 15 years ago, Dalton Stevens was plagued with insomnia. Unable to sleep, he was looking for something to quiet his mind. He began sewing buttons on a suit. Two years later, the suit was covered in thousands of buttons and weighed 16 pounds.

After the suit, Stevens began adding buttons to his shoes and guitar. Little did he know that his new hobby would lead to stardom. First the local newspaper got wind of “The Button King.” Then local television, CNN and Star Magazine came calling. Before he knew it, Dalton Stevens was a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and the David Letterman Show.

Now, Stevens shares his art with the public in a building near his home. The Button King Museum is filled with, well, things covered in buttons. A hearse, a coffin, an outhouse (that’s right) and of course, the suit that started it all are among the button-bedecked items on display.

When you arrive, Stevens or one of his friendly neighbors will soon appear. Ask them to play the DVD for you and you will not only see Stevens’ appearance on The Tonight Show but will also be treated to some of his button-loving songs, performed by the Button King himself with buttoned guitar accompaniment.

Stevens’ good humor is evident in this one room museum dedicated to his unique form of self-expression. It’s a great place to celebrate the joy of America’s weird, wacky and wonderful eccentricities.

Admission to the museum is free, but Stevens does accept donations. Click here for more information.