The World’s Quirkiest Museums

Nov 23, 2017

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Is visiting weird museums the coolest new travel trend? With the openings of quirky museums like the Museum of Ice Cream pop-up exhibit in San Francisco and the interactive Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, it seems you can plan a whole trip around crazy collections of random stuff.

In This Post

A visitor enjoys some popsicles at the Ice Cream Museum. Image from the Ice Cream Museum Facebook page.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Ice Cream Facebook page.

Fun Foods

Foodies can take their admiration of cuisine to a whole new level by visiting a museum dedicated to, well, just that. Those who have to start their day with a buttered slice of toast should visit the Butter Museum in Cork, Ireland, which explains everything you’d ever want to know about butter production. There’s even an extensive collection of butter wrappers.

The noodle-obsessed can visit the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in Japan, where you can explore the origins of ramen and make your own variety. Meat lovers should stop by the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Berlin, which has a spice chamber, a chill-out area complete with a sausage sofa and interactive sound booths with songs about currywurst.

The ramen shop eating area at the museum. Image from the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum Facebook page.
Image courtesy of the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum Facebook page.

For a look at America’s most famous canned meat, visit the Spam Museum in Minnesota. The gift shop is particularly entertaining, offering a variety of different Spam-labeled items for sale. If you find yourself in upstate New York, the Jell-O Museum in Le Roy has antique Jell-O molds, gift items and a grand collection of vintage Jell-O ads.

The SPAM museum will inspire you to get creative with your SPAM and make things like SPAM sushi-style rolls. Image from the SPAM Museum Facebook page.
Image courtesy of the SPAM Museum Facebook page.

Creepy and Informative

If you’re into the morbid or grotesque, you should definitely consider museums like the Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo, where you can wave hello to a 30-foot tapeworm that was once found inside a human. Or head to the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato, Mexico, which features more than 100 mummified cadavers, including murder victims and infants. In Cappadocia, Turkey, you can visit the Hair Museum of Avanos, basically a cave where more than 16,000 women have been leaving locks for almost 40 years.

Walk through the hall of mummies at the Mummy Museum. Image by Russ Bowling / Flickr.
Image courtesy of Russ Bowling / Flickr.

You can also get real gruesome right here in the good ol’ US of A at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, which features a collection of 139 skulls, or at the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri, a former asylum that holds a disturbing collection of items including a tranquilizer chair, lobotomy instruments and several objects that were swallowed by patients.

Skulls at the Mutter Museum. Image from the Mutter Museum.
Image courtesy of the Mutter Museum.

Adults Only

The Museum of Broken Relationships, so popular it has two permanent locations (Los Angeles and Zagreb, Croatia), has completed a world tour and is opening a pop-up in Alta, Norway, on March 1, 2018. You’ll feel immersed in a world of broken love stories as you view photographs, letters and mementos like stilettos and keys. If you’d rather be part of an exhibition than a gawker of one, the museum is currently accepting stories from anyone going through a rough breakup.

An exhibit in the Zagreb location. Image by Mare Milin / Museum of Broken Relationships.
An exhibit in the Zagreb location. Image courtesy of Mare Milin / Museum of Broken Relationships.

If you’d prefer something even raunchier, head to the Sex Machines Museum in Prague. The iron corsets and chamber pots are nothing if not historical, with items dating back to the 16th century and some of the first porn films ever made. If that’s not enough, the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland, contains more than 215, erm, specimens from almost all the land and sea mammals found in Iceland. Both Barcelona and Amsterdam also have their very own erotic museums, if you want to do a whole sexy Europe tour.

Those lusting for knowledge in the US should head to the Museum of Sex in New York City, which has exhibitions on the sex lives of animals and sassy photographs from the disco era, or the Antique Vibrator Museum in San Francisco, which has a full collection of self-pleasure items dating back to the 1800s.

See photos like this one and more at the Museum of Sex. Image by Guy Bordin (Spring 1979) from the Museum of Sex Facebook page.
Image courtesy of Guy Bordin from the Museum of Sex Facebook page.

Just Plain Wacky

Some of the world’s weirdest museums just can’t be categorized. Visiting Leeds Castle in Kent, England, for example, may seem like a straightforward experience, but when you wander into the Dog Collar Museum, the collection of 130 collars (some dating back to the 16th century) is anything but typical. In fact, the UK seems to be winning when it comes to strange museums. There’s also the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport, which has a large collection of vintage lawnmowers, including one once owned by Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

Borderline creepy, the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India, may seem gross but actually provides an interesting perspective on the history of sanitation and hygiene, with collections of ancient, medieval and modern toilets dating from 3000 BC through the end of the 20th century. 

Vintage gold dog collars. Image from the Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum exhibition.
Image courtesy of the Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum.

New Englanders can make a day trip of seeing crummy creativity in Boston at the Museum of Bad Art. The museum refers to itself as “the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.” Southerners can get lost in knick-knack heaven at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, featuring 20,000 sets of shakers. You can even check out what some argue redefined the landscape of the Wild West at the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum in La Crosse, Kansas.

Image courtesy of the Museum of Bad Art Facebook page.

Finally, those TPG readers who are airline-obsessed (aren’t we all?) and want to check out an extensive collection of flight-attendant apparel from the comfort of their own home should check out the online museum Uniform Freak, which has photos of 1,417 different uniforms from 527 airlines. 

Have you ever been to any of these freaky museums, or do you want to nominate others for inclusion? Share in the comments selection, below.

Featured image courtesy of the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum Facebook page.

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