The strangest museums in the world
Not all museums represent a glowing halo of high culture. Some, like the ones represented below, focus on the more... exotic aspects of the world.
No matter how bizarre, unconventional, or extravagant the subject is, there is probably a museum dedicated to it in some corner of our varied planet.
These 'treasures' scattered around the world will surely satisfy the seekers of the stranger things in life.
What makes an ordinary object extraordinary? Simply by placing that object in a museum. No matter how seemingly strange or mundane, objects offer us windows to history and connect us to our past. They expose our darkest concerns, the brightest ideas, and the boundless creativity of the human mind.
When you think about visiting a museum, you probably think of a serious and recognized institution, such as the Louvre Museum in Paris or the Prado Museum in Madrid. However, not all museums are traditional. There are many unusual museums, ranging from the strange to the creepy or eschatological.
Museums are ubiquitous in our societies; there is at least one in almost every major city in the world, mostly dedicated to art or history. Whilst places like the MoMA, Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence or The National Gallery in London are important cultural landmarks, sometimes exploring the unusual and try something a little different can be enlightening.
There are all sorts of strange museums in the world that are worth visiting, if only for the novelty they represent. Here is a list of the strangest museums in the world that you probably want to visit once in your life (or maybe not).
We will review the National Poo Museum, the Museum of Bread, the Museum of Sex, the Museum of Dog Collars and the amazing and eye-catching Alien Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland. You will find where to locate these museums, their content and some facts about them.
The Underwater Museum of Art, MUSA, is located under the waters of Cancun and has more than 470 submerged statues for divers or snorkelers to enjoy. It is probably the only museum in the world where diving equipment is needed to enter it. This submerged sculptural extravagance is found in one of the clearest water bodies in the world, the Mexican National Marine Park in the Caribbean. The sculptures (located three to six metres deep) represents residents and even some celebrities. In addition, they are all made of special materials that are respectful of the sea, which means that in the end, this attraction will become an impressive coral reef on its own.
This curious museum dedicated to tap water is located in Beijing, China. In it are all the intricacies of tap water, which includes 130 "real objects", models and artifacts like old water coupons dating from the first tap water company in the capital, the Jingshi Tap Water Company. However, let’s hope you’re not tempted to quench your thirst here, as Beijing residents have long known that water coming out of their taps is not safe to drink. Additionally, in a landlocked city facing the growing risk of water scarcity, is it not enough motivation to create a monument to the challenge of providing clean, running water to millions of people? This museum was founded in 1908 just outside the city gate in Dongzhimen.
The International UFO Museum and Research Centre is located in the former Roswell Theatre in New Mexico, U.S.A. Founded in 1991, the museum is the ideal place for those passionate about extraterrestrial conspiracies and the UFO phenomenon in general. In fact, it is so successful globally that it represents the largest source of income for the people. A bookstore and a gift shop with souvenirs inspired by extraterrestrials are other attractions of the museum.
A museum in honour of poo? This is the first permanent exhibition dedicated to human and animal excrement. It’s called the National Poo Museum and we can visit it on the English island of Wight in the south of England. The National Museum of Poo was inaugurated in 2016 and shows all kinds of feces stuffed into resin spheres: baby poo, dove poo, lion poo... and even fossilized reptilian poo that are millions of years old. If you find it fascinating or eschatological, in the souvenir shop you can buy a replica in plastic.
With a surface area of 1,200 metres and is located in Berlin, Germany, the People Museum opened in 2015. It is the work of the German artist and scientist Gunther von Hagens who rose to fame after "plastinating" his first corpse in 1990, after two decades of research in Heidelberg. The doctor nicknamed 'Doctor Death' thus exhibits his collection of human corpses, preserved under the technique of plastination so that they do not decay. These lifeless bodies were turned into immortal corpses through plastination, extracting all the body fluids that were subsequently replaced by resins and plastic materials. All of them are part of the exhibition. Donations are continuously made in the form of corpses that are conserved for educational purposes.
The Chez Galip Hair Museum is located in Avanos, Turkey and is dedicated to hair. In this city in Cappadocia, hidden in a dark cave under a ceramic shop, there are more than 16,000 strands of hair with the names of the donors exposed. The origin of this strange museum goes back several decades, when a friend of Chez Galip, the potter, had to leave the city and left Galip something to remember: a lock of hair.
The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets is located in New Delhi, India. It is curious because considering how complicated it is to find decent bathrooms in this region, it is ironic to discover that this country is home to a museum dedicated to toilets. "Hygiene is more important than independence," Gandhi once said. Be that as it may, if you ever wanted to learn about the complete evolution of toilets throughout human history, we recommend you visit this museum, which traces the history of the bathroom for the past 4,500 years.
A museum that pays tribute to instant noodles? The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka in Japan is all a noodle lover could wish for. Ramen is made with different types of Chinese noodles served in a broth usually prepared with fish, miso and soy sauce and other ingredients and this museum is dedicated to its precooked version. The curious thing about this museum is that we can not only travel through the history of this food, but also participate in cooking workshops and tastings.
Almost half a million pet lovers pass through this unique dog collar exhibit every year. It is found in the manor house of Leeds Castle, whose last owner was the Honorable Olive, Lady Baillie, whose love for dogs inspired the creation of the museum. The exhibition features more than 100 unique objects dating back centuries, as well as historical documents about dog accessories from medieval times. The most striking thing about the museum are the dog collars from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum located in Reykjavik, Iceland, is the only museum in the world that contains a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the different types of mammals found in a single country. The museum contains a collection of over 215 male reproductive pieces belonging to almost all terrestrial and marine mammals that can be found in Iceland.
Located in the sewers below Paris, France, on the left bank in central Paris, the Sewer Museum is a must-see attraction for any visitor interested in engineering, public works or unusual tourist sites, as well as for fans of Victor Hugo’s most famous novel, Les Miserables. This museum details the history of the sewers from their initial development by Hugues Aubriot, Provost of Paris at the end of the 14th century, to its modern structure, which was designed in the 19th century by the engineer Eugène Belgrand.
The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, has more than 50 museums, but few are as strange and creepy as the Torture Museum. Located in the centre of the city, the museum offers a vivid picture of the painful European past, in which there is punishment instruments from different parts of Europe, from the Inquisition torture chair to the guillotine. It is a creepy museum where the most Dantesque and cruel objects that we can imagine are exhibited.
The Vampire Museum in Paris, France, was founded by Jacques Sirgent, an eccentric scholar specializing in the macabre. This creepy museum is a visual representation of his dedicated research on vampirism. The museum houses an authentic anti-vampire protection kit from the 19th century, a mummified cat and several anti-vampire weapons. It is located just 16 minutes from the centre of Paris, in Les Lilas.
In Guanajuato, Mexico, you can find the Museum of Mummies. It is one of the most fearsome museums in the world, as it houses a series of naturally mummified bodies that were buried during a cholera outbreak around the city in 1833. The natural mummification of the corpses was probably caused by the heat and dryness characteristic of Guanajuato. This macabre enclave became a museum in 1969, and currently exhibits more than 100 mummies.
Considered one of the most unusual museums in the United States, the Glore Psychiatric Museum in Missouri recounts the 130-year history of St. Joseph’s Hospital and centuries of mental health care. Located on the grounds of the original hospital, the museum’s exhibits include surgical tools, treatment equipment, furniture, nurses' uniforms, personal notes and fascinating artwork from hospital patients.
Given that Thailand is one of the largest producers of condoms in the world, it should come as no surprise that it has a museum dedicated to this contraceptive device. Located outside of Bangkok in the city of Nonthaburi, the Condom Museum was founded with the intention of eliminating the negative view of Thai people towards the use of condoms, raise awareness about sexual protection and increase their confidence in the use of this contraceptive method.
Located in Maine County, North America, and coordinated by renowned naturalist and cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, the museum offers a wide range of exhibits of rare specimens, scientists and zoos that give rise to popular traditions found within cryptozoology. This branch is dedicated to the study of hidden animals and involves the search for individuals whose existence has not been verified, such as Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster.
The Meguro Parasitological Museum is one of the most original museums found in Japan. Founded in 1953, this museum offers everything you ever wanted to know about tapeworms, lice and other parasites. The impressive collection features more than 300 specimens, including a giant tapestry nine metres long. It is the only parasitology museum in the world and admission is free.
Another museum not suitable for sensitive people. At the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, U.S.A. you’ll find the strangest collections related to medicine and anatomy. Unpleasant for some, interesting for others. The museum, which was founded in 1858 is a part of the Philadelphia College of Physicians and exhibits preserved collections of medical rarities, anatomical samples, models and medical instruments in a 19th century setting. The museum’s highlights include President Grover Cleveland’s jaw tumor, Albert Einstein’s brain, and Dr. Joseph Hyrtl’s collection of human skulls.
It is probably not one of the most visited museums in the world (it has about 2,000 visitors per month), but the Beauty Museum in Melaka City, Melaka, Malaysia, is definitely one of the most unusual. It exhibits different standards of beauty from antiquity to modern times. Examples include very painful body modifications such as tooth filing, piercing, scarification, head molding or lip stretching.
Established in Kansas, U.S.A. in 1970 in a small shop on the main street in downtown La Crosse, the Barbed Wire Museum is dedicated exclusively to the history of barbed wire. The museum exhibits more than 2,400 varieties of barbed wire, including traditional samples manufactured between 1870 and 1890. Unfortunately this object played a vital role in the trench warfare during World War I, as the soldiers used it to slow down the attack and increase the number of casualties of the enemies trapped in it.
Another of the strangest museums in our selection is the Museum of Menstruation. It is located in the basement of the home of its founder and curator Harry Finley, who lives in New Carrollton, Maryland, United States. Since 1995, Finley has dedicated his life to making available to the public his private collection of feminine hygiene products and altered mannequins. A museum dedicated to that inevitable discomfort women have to face every month. However, it has been closed for years (since 1998), but can be visited via web.
Located in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. the Museum of Death guarantees a macabre visit. The exhibition is full of skulls, cannibalism, references to death, small heads and all kinds of instruments of suspicious use. More than 5,000 objects, photographs and human remains are on display, including the guillotined head of a French serial killer, Henri Désiré Landru, sentenced in 1922. There is also a macabre suicide room.
Most of the exhibits present at the Museum of Bad Art would not reach the walls of your house, much less the Louvre. More than 600 pieces, which elsewhere would inspire insincere compliments, here they are allowed to shine. Located "conveniently next to the bathrooms" in an ancient basement in Dedham, Massachusetts, U.S.A. the museum accepts only art that is too bad to ignore. Deformed flowers, brightly colored portraits... the unforgettable picture of "Lucy in the field with flowers", a true icon representing a septuagenarian seemingly floating in a field of flowers that sways slowly.
In Germany you can find the European Bread Museum. More than 18,000 exhibits showcase virtually everything from the 6,000-year history of bread in artwork (artists like Salvador Dali or Pablo Picasso) to ancient bakery artifacts dating back to the Stone Age. However, be sure to bring a snack: despite being dedicated to this juicy and aged delicacy, you won’t find a single edible piece of bread inside the museum.