The World’s 10 Wackiest Museums
SO YOU’VE BEEN to the Louvre and the Guggenheim and the MET. Bravo. Those are child’s play. If you want something truly unique and memorable, you have to check these out.
1. Iceland Phallological Museum
Or, the Penis Museum. I know this is serious, but seriously, how can you absorb stats like this without a little giggle: 272 specimens with 55 belonging to 16 different whale species, one from a rogue polar bear (aren’t they all rogue?), and dozens from seals, walruses, and all sorts of land mammals.
The Iceland Phallological Museum proudly claims to hold in their possession “legally certified gift-tokens for four specimens belonging to Homo Sapiens” (that’s us, guys). I’m not 100% clear what this means exactly, but it sure sounds interesting. Also on display are “…other practical utensils related to the museum’s chosen theme.”
2. Museum of Bad Art
Direct from the wesbsite: “the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.” Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
The Museum of Bad Art started in the basement of a private home in Boston. Spurred on by increasing demand, MOBA found the site for its first permanent gallery in Dedham Community Theatre’s basement (just outside the men’s loo).
Their second gallery? Naturally, another basement, this one in the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square. Many more works of bad art can be found in their online collection, and if you can’t make it there in person, order up their book, The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks.
3. Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
Ramen (Japanese noodles) began in Japan’s port cities and quickly spread throughout the country. Nowadays, each region has its own take on the dish. Save yourself some travel and taste each one in the Raumen Museum.
You can choose from traditional to “new generation” noodle soups, and even visit the Nissin Cup Noodle factory where you can design the packaging, choose your ramen flavour, and pick up to four ingredients.
4. The Kunstkamera (Peter the Great’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography)
The Kunstkamera, established by Peter the Great in St. Petersburg, was the first museum in Russia. Its purpose was to “collect and examine natural and human curiosities and rarities.” Indeed. I had the pleasure of visiting in 2007 and I can tell you firsthand about the curiosities and rarities.
Peter’s mission was to debunk myths about monsters and to educate the superstitious citizens, and so collected a series of malformed, still-born fetuses. These are on display in jars along with other “curiosities.”
Eat well in advance of your visit, that’s all I’m sayin’.
5. Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum
The Pest Shop in Plano, Texas is not just pest control. Nope. It’s also a museum that displays these dead crawlies dressed up in costumes.
There’s Liberoachi (a flamboyantly dressed roach seated in front of a piano), Ross Peroach, and Liberty Roach who, instead of a torch, has her hand up a roach’s…well, you get the picture.
Check out their YouTube video. Even though I’m sure you’re willing to fork over some dough to see this, admission is free.
6. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets
“The toilet is a part of the history of human hygiene which is a critical chapter in the growth of civilisation.” – Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak
Now that’s a man who takes his toilets seriously. If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering anything toilet-related, this may just be the place for you. The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi aims to educate on such toilet-based topics as sanitation history, its future, and the design, materials, and technology of the porcelain gods.
7. Museum of Witchcraft
I’d better be careful including this museum here; the last thing I want is to be turned into a newt. Located in Boscastle, Cornwall, the Museum of Witchcraft is home to the world’s largest collection of witchcraft-related artifacts and regalia.
One item on display is a doll with a dagger jabbed in its stomach, and real pubic hair sewn between its legs. It was apparently used to resolve an unwanted pregnancy. I have a bit of an unwanted spare tire — wonder if it would help with that?
8. Mustard Museum
This is what happens when sports fans go wrong. After the Red Sox lost the World Series to the Mets in 1986, founder Barry Levenson found himself in the condiments aisle of a local supermarket, stocking up on mustard (he heard the voices “if you collect us, they will come”).
Over 20 years later, he’s amassed more than 4400 mustards and all sorts of paraphernalia. He’s got a gallery, a giftshop, and even Mustard Piece Theatre. You can find the Mustard Museum in downtown Middleton, Wisconsin.
9. Songkran Niyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum
This Thai museum’s prize posession is famed 50s cannibal, Si Quey, who has been embalmed in paraffin wax. A visible scar on his head shows where his brain was removed for study to determine if the mind of a cannibal is different than that of a normal person’s. The verdict? Nope.
Many more gruesome exhibits are on display at the Forensic Medicine Museum in Bangkok.
10. The Million Dollar Museum
If you’re on your way to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, you may as well stop by. With a roadside sign stating “German scientists ask — is 12-inch body a real alien? The answer is inside.” how could you not dip in? The Million Dollar Museum in White’s City is an eclectic collection of, well, anything and everything.
A two-headed turtle, broken typewriters, a little bathtub claimed to have been used by Napoleon, “Tom Ketchum’s Amputated Arm,” and…the Alien Baby.
This was originally titled “one of a race of midget Indians,” but when it was pointed out by a German TV crew — there to report on the 50th anniversary of the Roswell Incident — that it might be an extraterrestrial, the description was changed after the remarks created a media sensation.
Fascinated? I am.
This post was originally published May 28, 2009.