Museum of Televison opens its permanent home

TORONTO — Visitors to a mesmerizing new Canadian museum are encouraged to veg out in front of the tube.

The MZTV Museum of Television opened its permanent home at broadcaster Chum Television on April 3. About 100 media literacy educators, collectors and academics tuned in and turned on several dozen historic televisions and related memorabilia.

Spearheading the museum effort is Moses Znaimer, who co-founded City-TV, which is now part of Chum.

At the push of a button, the roomful of vintage TVs flickered to life — more or less. Znaimer calls it the only such collection on permanent public display in North America. (Museums of broadcasting in L.A., Chicago and New York are dedicated to programming rather than the artifacts themselves, he notes.)

And while there may be a TV for every four or five people on the planet, he adds, “There are fewer pre-war TVs left in the world than Stradivarius violins.”

Znaimer has been busily scooping up as many sets as he can find.

His collection ranges from the 1920s to the ’70s. It includes a General Electric Octagon from 1928; a Phantom Teleceiver, made of new-fangled transparent Lucite for the 1939 World Fair (to convince skeptics that no trickery was involved); and a 1951 CBS Columbia (the first U.S. color model).

One highly prized item of memorabilia is Felix the Cat, the papier-mache kitty featured in the first TV broadcast (necessary lighting levels at the time being too harsh for the human likes of Ed Sullivan.)

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