Groom Tube

Admit it, it’s happened to you more than once. You’re surfing the web and you stumble upon a site and for no explainable reason, you get sucked in. There’s no redeemable quality in the stuff your clicking through, in fact there’s a weirdness factor that makes you uneasy, but you can’t pull yourself away. That was the case when I came across Awkward Family Photos, a website where the name pretty much explains itself. The simple concept caught on, and AFP became a media sensation with coverage on The Today Show, in Time and Esquire and on and on. A New York Times bestselling book was followed by a second book, Awkward Family Pet Photos.  Go to and see for yourself.

And now the phenomenon is coming to Humboldt with no less a venue than the Morris Graves Museum of Art. A exhibit of 200 Awkward Family Photos opens Wednesday, Jan. 21. And that’s not all, this is an opportunity for you to show off your own family awkwardness.

We’ll let the folks at the Graves explain:


With just 10 photos and a mission to celebrate the awkwardness of family, childhood friends Mike Bender and Doug Chernack launched in May 2009. Within a week, the site was receiving millions of visitors a day and thousands of submissions from around the world.

It began when Mike saw an awkward vacation photo hung in his parents’ house. Realizing there were probably plenty of other people out there with their own awkward family images, the two friends decided to create a friendly, online place where everyone could come together and share their uncomfortable family moments. Thus, Awkward Family Photos was born. The site quickly took off and became an internet sensation; it now receives millions of hits daily and submissions from around the world.

Visitors to the Morris Graves Museum of Art will have the opportunity to see the top 200 cringe-worthy photos in person. The AWKWARD FAMILY PHOTOS exhibition, opening January 21st, 2015, marks only the third time the collection will be shown in a museum setting.

“Over the past 15 years, the MGMA has become a special gathering place for families,” said Jemima Harr, Executive Director-Curator. “This exhibition offers a fun, light-hearted way for us to celebrate that special—and sometimes awkward—family bond.”

But why make it into a museum exhibit when all the pictures are available online? For Bender and Chernack, it’s about the in-person experience.

“It emphasizes the fact that we’re all awkward, and that we have all of this stuff in common with other families,” Bender said. “When you see it laid out in a museum setting, it really hits that home.”

Bender is also proud of the exhibit’s picture frames, which are “awkward frames” from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. “The frames to me are almost as fun as the show,” he said.

In honor of the exhibition, visitors are invited to share their own absurd family snapshots and stories behind the photos, for a chance to win fantastic MGMA and Awkward Family Photo prizes. Visitors may hang their own photos and create wall text for them in the Knight Gallery.

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