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Eric Braverman and the world's most familiar dinner party.
Eric Braverman and the world's most familiar dinner party.

Last Supper Museum

Field review by the editors.

Douglas, Arizona

Perhaps the earth's best-known artwork -- and an inspiration for odd American roadside tributes -- is Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, a painting of Jesus's final meal with his 12 apostles.

Semi-arid climate of Douglas helps preserve the collection.
Semi-arid climate of Douglas helps preserve the collection.

Eric Braverman, seven years old, became aware of Leonardo's Last Supper in 1972 when he saw a life-size version in a wax museum in Phoenix. "The gift shop had it in a snow globe, 'cause of course you want to shake the Last Supper and make it snow," Eric said. "I got it, and then eventually I just started seeing Last Suppers everywhere." According to Eric, da Vinci's Last Supper is "the most reinterpreted art concept in the history of humankind."

So Eric began collecting them.

As an adult Eric enjoyed a career that included touring the world with metal bands such as Korn, Megadeath, Metallica, and Slayer. "Most people in my life, especially with my background, never thought, 'Oh, he's got hundreds and hundreds of Last Suppers,'" said Eric. "But when I was on tour I'd always be looking for them. There are Last Suppers in every medium you can imagine. Endless variations."

In this PEZ interpretation, Yosemite Sam is Jesus, Ernie the Muppet is Judas.
In this PEZ interpretation, Yosemite Sam is Jesus, Ernie the Muppet is Judas.

Eric heard of a Last Supper Museum in Greensburg, Indiana, run by the Rev. Charles and Wilma Flory. He wanted to shoot a video at the museum to add to his collection (Eric collected images of Last Suppers that he couldn't take home with him) but the Florys were elderly and had shuttered the museum. Eric's disappointment vanished when he received a surprise offer: the Florys were willing to give him all of their Last Suppers if he promised to provide the artworks with a good home. Eric agreed and, combined with his own stockpile, suddenly found himself with more than 2,500 Last Suppers, the largest collection in the world.

Last Supper makes a miraculous appearance in a bottle.
Last Supper makes a miraculous appearance in a bottle.

That was in October 2022. Eric lived on the outskirts of Douglas, Arizona, a Mexican border town that he called, "The Disneyland of the Wilderness," so that's where he opened his Last Supper Museum in February 2023. "It's my gift to Douglas and the border, which gets a bad rap," Eric said. "The only 'crisis at the border' is that there's no good pizza."

Between 400 and 500 Last Suppers are on display, which overwhelms some visitors even though it's a small fraction of the overall collection. The Florys' conservative contributions give the museum a solid foundation, with the familiar da Vinci dinner party reproduced in paintings, carvings, ceramics, and needlepoint -- as well as in occasional oddities such as a Last Supper etched into an ostrich egg and a lump of coal.

Eric's madcap aesthetic, however, is what makes the museum memorable. There's no need to ask who collected the Last Suppers of rubber duckies, clowns, cutlery, Jamaican Rastafarians, Kachina dolls, PEZ dispensers, and Tupperware. There are Last Suppers featuring the cast of the Simpsons, South Park, Star Wars, the Avengers, and icons of American breakfast cereals. A Last Supper has been built inside a bottle, baked into a cookie, rolled from banana leaves, and painted onto a woman's corset and a Frisbee. Eric's original snow globe is on display, as is a room key from the Leonardo da Vinci Hotel.

Judas is splattered in a Last Supper honoring the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Judas is splattered in a Last Supper honoring the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The Last Supper is such a familiar image that even people with modest skills can make recognizable versions. Eric himself fashioned a Last Supper out of toy soldiers ("There're only 12 of them because one's MIA"). Another, rescued from a fire, he turned into the apocalyptic Last Supper 2174. A Last Supper of disposable lighters and cigarette butts was created by the museum's general manager, Eric said, because she wanted to quit smoking.

Meal-worthy Last Supper serving trays and plates.
Meal-worthy Last Supper serving trays and plates.

Eric said that he invited several local religious leaders to visit the museum and asked them, "Is there anything here that's offensive?" Their response, he paraphrased, was that if your faith can be shaken by a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Last Supper, then it's pretty flimsy.

(Eric does plan to display several "screwed up" Last Suppers from his collection within a special alcove screened by warning signs, such as a Last Supper with zombies and another whose terrifying table-mates include O.J. Simpson, Ronald McDonald, and Hitler. "Hitler's got a baby on a serving tray.")

Eric said that people who stay at the upscale Gadsden Hotel across the street (built during the town's 1907 copper boom) are sometimes hesitant to visit the museum "because they assume I'm very religious. They think they'll be preached at." Eric, however, is an agnostic: non-proselytizing and non-denominational. "It's too big for me to pick a team." He welcomes tourists to bring their own memorable Last Suppers for possible donation to the museum, and has created a scholarship program to encourage Last Supper art from local high school and college students.

"People have been really generous," Eric said. "Museums have been really cool about helping me, mentoring me."

Eric's immediate goals are to put more of the collection on display, and perhaps to convince a chef to move to Douglas and open a real pizzeria. "We could call it The Last Chance Supper," said Eric, "because the border's only ten blocks away."

Also see: Sanctuary Museum

Last Supper Museum

Address:
1101 G Ave., Douglas, AZ
Directions:
Downtown, on the east side of G Ave., just north of its intersection with 11th St.
Hours:
Tu-Su 10-4:30 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
623-877-4596
Admission:
Pay what you feel.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Art Car WorldArt Car World, Douglas, AZ - < 1 mi.
Shady Dell RV Park and Dot's DinerShady Dell RV Park and Dot's Diner, Bisbee, AZ - 21 mi.
Queen Mine TourQueen Mine Tour, Bisbee, AZ - 22 mi.
In the region:
President Garfield Fireplace, Willcox, AZ - 47 mi.

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