Eight Incredibly Strange Museums To Visit This Summer
Bigfoot hair, bad paintings, Manson family handicrafts and an Icelandic ghost's penis - just some of the exhibits you'll discover in our list of the world's weirdest museums...
Icelandic Phallological Museum
Do you like Icelandic penises? Then we’ve got the museum for you.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavik was established in 1997, and is home to over 200 penis specimens from nearly every land and sea mammal found Iceland.
From guinea pigs and reindeer to whales and the 1998 Icelandic silver medal-winning Handball team, you’ll find a member for every occasion on display.
There’s also a selection of samples from around the world (with the elephant sample proving a genuine health and safety risk), and a folklore section featuring the penises of trolls, ghosts, elves and an Icelandic ‘Yule Lad’ (which will make you see Father Christmas in an entirely different light).
The Hobo Museum
The Hobo Museum, based in the town of Britt, Iowa, is the world’s only museum dedicated to the transient lifestyle.
It features exhibits and artefacts tracing the story of American travelling workers, from the end of the 19th century to the present day, including hobo artwork, crafts, clothing and historic archives.
It also includes the story of the hobo code, the mysterious hobo symbols found in towns across the country, and the distinct contrasts between hobos, tramps and bums.
Since 1900 the town has also played host to the annual National Hobo Convention, which features the Hobo Parade, the Hobo King & Hobo Queen coronation and the Hobo memorial service.
If you want to learn the difference between doggin’ it and padding the hoof, the Hobo Museum will show you another side of the American Dream that still lives on today.
Ever wanted to know more about America’s favourite mystery meat (apart from what’s actually in it)?
Then take a trip to the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota, and stuff your face with facts.
You’ll be treated to the story of SPAM’s birth in 1937, the brainchild of businessman Jay Hormel who saw the need for cheap meat in Depression-Era America;
You’ll hear the story of how SPAM helped win World War II, and how countless soldiers never want to taste it again;
You’ll discover the most popular flavour of SPAM in Guam;
And you’ll probably be told exactly how many pigs have everything but the squeal processed out of them SPAM factory (around 20,000 a day).
If you love the taste of a meat that lasts forever, the SPAM Museum is the place for you.
If your kids have ever seen the movie ‘Babe’, you can save yourself a difficult conversation and leave them at home.
International Cryptozoology Museum
The International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine is the world’s only museum dedicated to mythical and mysterious creatures from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster.
It was established in 1994 by Loren Coleman, one of the world’s leading experts in the study of hidden or unknown animals, and offers a treasure trove of more than 10,000 exhibits and specimens.
In addition to seeing the hundreds of alleged footprint casts and hair samples from Bigfoot himself, you’ll discover the answers to some of nature’s most important questions such as “Do giant beavers still exist?” “How do you make a Fijian Mermaid?” and “What’s the difference between the Dover Demon and the Montauk Monster?”
Museum of Bad Art
The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) was established in Boston in 1994, as a repository for the nation’s finest worst artwork.
Originally in the basement of a private home, the museum now exists as three galleries across the city with around 600 works of misguided genius in its collection.
The pieces in the collection range from unusually-proportioned nudes and sinister smiling dogs to impenetrable surrealist visions and an orange cat swallowing mankind.
The honesty and effort that went into creating each work is what makes them truly remarkable, and the museum’s motto – “Art too bad to be ignored” – certainly rings true.
With many of the works remaining anonymous, art critics and historians for generations to come will be left guessing at the meaning behind paintings like ‘Juggling Dog in a Hula Skirt’, ‘Eileen's Uncle Phil’ and ‘Drilling for Eggs’.
But you can still experience them in all their powerful glory thanks to MOBA.
Museum of Death
With two locations in Hollywood, California, and New Orleans, Louisiana, the Museum of Death claims to house the world’s largest collection of serial killer artwork, along with exhibits covering autopsies, crime scenes, skulls, medical oddities and murderabilia.
Want to see the genuine severed head of French serial murderer Henri Désiré Landru? You got it.
Ever wondered what a quilt sewn by the entire Manson family would look like? Now you can find out (hint: it’s covered in swastikas).
Want to sit through an embalming video that has caused U.S marines to faint? Be our guest.
You’ also find morgue photos from the Black Dahlia murder, a room dedicated to the 1997 Heaven's Gate mass-suicide, a collection of funereal home match-books and a delightful gift shop.
The Museum of Death would without doubt be the creepiest destination on this list, if it wasn’t for...
Vent Haven Venriloquism Museum
A good museum makes history come to life. At the Vent Haven Museum of ventriloquism in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, you’ll spend your entire visit praying that absolutely nothing in there comes to life.
The museum was founded by William Shakespeare Berger, former president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists, and features a comprehensive history of ventriloquism from the 1700s to the present day.
Aside from the extensive archive of books, photographs and playbills, the museum hosts more than 800 dummies and figures – each one creepy enough to inspire nightmares in its own right.
But put them together in row after row of lifeless staring faces, and the entire building becomes a kind of nightmare superconductor that can turn your brain inside-out in Lovecraftian horror.
Or, if you don't happen to suffer from automatonophobia, it's a truly fascinating look into the history of a centuries-old art form, celebrating the skills of generations of performers and craftsmen.
Either way, it's an unforgettable day out.
Museum of Broken Relationships
The remarkable Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb was established in 2006 by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišic, using artefacts from their own failed relationship.
It is now home to a vast collection of thoughtless gifts, ‘Dear John’ letters, shared possessions and romantic mementos donated from around the world - each telling the story of a painful break-up.
Exhibits include an axe used to chop up a cheating partner’s furniture, an unwanted pair of furry handcuffs, and a garden gnome thrown at a car windscreen during a messy divorce.
Each is accompanied by a note explaining the significance, some long and some short.
A mobile phone from Croatia is presented with the simple story: “It was 300 days too long. He gave me his cell phone so I couldn’t call him anymore.”
Much of the collection now tours the world in a travelling exhibition, picking up new heartbreaking additions wherever it goes.
And in 2016 a new Los Angeles branch of the museum was opened in the heart of Hollywood – perhaps the perfect spot for a museum dedicated to broken hearts and unbearable romance.
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