Let's face it: MOMA is pretentious, the Uffizi is boring, and the Louvre is passé. Just kidding--of course we love these famous museums and visit them every chance we get. However, we also like to feast our eyes on the odd, the unusual, and the downright weird once in a while. The world's weirdest museums.
All over the world, crazy museums are curating collections that salute the breadth of human experience, in all its abnormal glory. These are the weirdest museums in the world, and we promise you that all 40 of them are worth the price of admission.
40. Funeral Carriage Museum, Spain
We begin our list of weirdest museums in Spain.
Positioning itself as the only hearse collection in Europe, the museum has 19 ornate carriages on display. The historic vehicles date back to the 19th-century. Moreover, they represent a niche of Spanish cultural heritage, when funerals used to be elaborate public events. A preserved glimpse of past funeral rituals, the horse-drawn hearses in the museum would have once paraded famous corpses through the streets of Spain.
39. Museum of Bad Art, USA
The museum, which today proudly displays only the best of the worst art, began as the hobby of antique dealer Scott Wilson when he found a painting he liked in someone else’s trash. 25 years later, the museum draws quite a crowd of regular visitors, hosts charity auctions, and has even been the victim of two thefts.
The museum’s collection is growing, though the curators say they have to turn away a lot of work because it’s just not bad enough.
38. Gold Museum, Columbia
Though this museum houses artifacts of various materials, the bulk of its collection is devoted to a single precious metal: gold. With pieces ranging from pre-Hispanic Columbia to bounty from the last fifty years, a visit here would have King Midas turning green with envy. Since most of the gold was mined from the surrounding mountains, the Gold Museum is a tribute to the country that inspired the myth of El Dorado.
37. District Six Museum, South Africa
For those who don’t know much about the Apartheid in South Africa in the 1970’s, suffice it to say that it was a brutal era. This museum is part history lesson, part memorial to the 60,000 people who were exiled from their homes in District six during the government-enforced segregation of Cape Town. Street signs, photographs, and a map of the district as it once was are the main exhibits.
36. Museum of Bread Culture, Germany
Bread is life. At least, that’s what you’ll be saying after a tour through this museum, which articulates the 6,000-year history of humans eating the grain-based food. There are thousands of artifacts here that over the centuries have been used in the processing of grain and baking of dough in the pursuit of that ultra-satisfying final product. One thing you can’t get at the museum, however, is actual bread; but that can be easily acquired at one of the many bakeries that have sprung up nearby.
35. Trekcetera Museum, Canada
This museum in small-town Vulcan, Alberta, is the only Star Trek museum in the country.
It’s not just for Trekkies, though; the exhibits include a hodgepodge of movie paraphernalia from other blockbusters like Harry Potter and Superman. Check out the space-age structure next time you’re stopping in Vulcan, or more likely, driving through.
34. Sock Culture Museum, China
Not too out of place considering China’s monopoly on clothing manufacture, the most surprising thing about the Sock Culture Museum is its size. The modern space of over 3,000 square meters displays thousands of socks, exhibits on sock technological advances, and sock literature. Too bad—we thought this might be the gathering place for all those socks that get lost in the dryer.
33. Messner Mountain Museum, Italy
An ambitious project both in scale and theory, the MMM is the brainchild of one of the most accomplished mountain climbers of our age, Reinhold Messner.
The exhibits incorporate the history of rock-climbing, mountain-dwelling peoples, and Messner’s own experience. What makes this museum even more unique is it’s locales, spread over six locations (so far), some of them tacked onto mountain peaks in modern, eye-catching structures.
32. Museum of Devils, Lithuania
The most impressive part of this curious collection by artist Antanas Žmuidzinavičius, was that he started it during the Soviet Era, when it was against the law to keep religious artifacts. For years, Antanas stored his sculptures of demons in secret, and it was only toward the end of his life that he made his hobby public and began accepting visitors.
Now, there are 3,000 devilish curios at this sinfully fascinating establishment.
31. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, India
A bunch of toilets might seem like an unsavory situation, but the museum started with a philanthropic mission to highlight sanitation issues in India. Whether it worked or not, now it’s a spectacle of the history of the porcelain throne, which also comes in wood, plastic, and marble varieties. By the way, if you’re interested in toilets but don’t feel like traveling that far, have no fear; there’s another toilet museum in Kiev, Ukraine.
30. International Cryptozoology Museum, USA
Don’t believe in Bigfoot? Well, you night after you visit this museum.
It’s full of “evidence” that so-far unclassified species do exist, like fossilized footprints, fuzzy photos, and the testimonials of scared campers. Mermaids, mothmen, and furry fish all get their just due here, in this collection belonging to this world most reputable cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman.
29. Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, Japan
Although you have your pick of over a dozen ramen museums when you visit Japan, Shin-Yokohama sets the benchmark. Designed to transport visitors back in time to an outdoor food court in 1950’s Japan, the wooden building facades and red lanterns are post-war cool. Even better, they operate as actual shops where you can sample different varieties of ramen from all over Japan.
28. Underwater Museum of Art, Mexico
Creepy, beautiful, fantastical; visitors to this one-of-a-kind museum can’t settle on just one way to describe it. You have to snorkel or hop on a glass-bottom boat to see the dozens of sculptures that sit on the bottom of the sandy shores of Cancun. The sculptures, which range from a vintage VW Bug to a crowd of people, as example, are slowly becoming part of the sea as coral and seaweed grow up around them.
27. Museum of Food Anomalies, Online
“The online museum of food gone horribly wrong,” is how MoFA sums itself up. We’re just thankful that there’s finally a one-stop-shop for photos of Jesus toast and potatoes that look like politicians. Highlights include a potato chip that looks like a Koala bear and a suspicious face in a slice of cheese.
And it’s online, so you don’t even have to part with the price of a ticket.
26. Beijing Tap Water Museum, China
This gallery of taps and maps tracing the history of Beijing’s water supply is a window into the history of the city overall. One interesting reveal is how difficult it was to sell the Chinese public on piped-in water back when it was introduced in 1908. Peasants were used to well water, which had a risk of being contaminated. Nowadays, the country’s water treatment system is impressively efficient, which it would have to be given the demands of such a large population.
25. The Bunny Museum, USA
Unfortunately, there are no real bunnies here at The Bunny Museum, but perhaps that’s for the best. Instead, this cutesy location olds the Guinness World Record for most bunny-related items, with a hopping 35,000 plushies, figurines, and bunny art.
But the “Hoppiest Place on Earth” isn’t all feel-good fuzz—there’s also an arresting array of freeze-dried rabbits that used to be beloved pets.
24. The Torture Museum, Netherlands
There’s not one but TWO museums related to torture in Amsterdam, and you’ll probably have your fill of torture after visiting just one. All the classics of medieval cruelty are here, from the Iron Maiden to the Guillotine, thumb screws to devices devised for torturing more sensitive body parts. Whatever macabre affinity brought you here, you’ll no doubt leave with a sense of wonder at man’s seemingly infinite creativity when it comes to hurting others.
23. Studio Ghibli Museum, Japan
Just like the movies, the Studio Ghibli Museum is weird, wonderful, and perfect for a few hours of escaping reality.
With larger-than-life replicas of beloved characters and full-scale sets, fans of the anime classics get to live out their Miyazaki dreams. The films Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Castle In The Sky are all featured here, as well as rotating exhibits and some cameos from Pixar films.
22. Franz Kafka Museum, Czech Republic
Kafka was a weird guy, so it’s no surprise he inspired a weird museum. A surrealist with a keen eye for social commentary, his characters suffered under the heel of the uncaring state—in his most well-known work, Metamorphosis, a man turns into a beetle and no one notices the difference. At the museum, you can see early drafts of his work, and a symbolic statue of two men peeing into a fountain shaped like the Czech Republic.
21. UFO Museum, USA
Even if you don’t believe in aliens, this museum is a fun journey into retro-futurism and kitschy Americana. Exhibits depict what happened back in the 1950s when the first UFO apparently landed at Area 51, and then all the brutal experiments the poor aliens were subjected to by the government. The gift shop is legendary, so you can leave with a key chain to commemorate your visit.
20. Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures, France
The city of love also loves its supernatural lore. The world’s only vampire museum, La Musée des Vampires in Paris delves into why these creatures of the night continue to have such an impact on pop culture. Relics of their existence are on display, including a mummified cat that served as familiar.
The most interesting displays are the anti-vampire kits that people believed kept them safe from being bitten.
19. Archi-Depot Museum, Japan
Relatively new on the museum scene, the Tokyo Archi-Depot opened in 2016 and is a mecca for those who love design in miniature. It’s a massive collection of architectural models—those small scale mockups architects build of future projects—from major firms in Japan. Some of these have been realized, and those that haven’t offer a wishful glimpse into what our cityscapes could look like one day.
18. Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame, USA
This might be the closest you’ll come to seeing Madonna naked. Frederick’s of Hollywood has been underclothing the stars in satin and lace for decades, and this Los Angeles showroom offers a glimpse into the frilly history of negligée. You’ll also see some pieces that decked the booties of famous people, like boxers worn by Tom Hanks and a bra worn by Cher.
17. Museum of Witchcraft, England
England has a long history of pagan and Wiccan folklore, and counts many practicing magicians among its people today.
This museum is a collection of artifacts from witchcraft dating back to the Medieval age, including a full-scale replica of a 19th-century cottage, complete with a resident witch mannequin using tarot.
16. Ikea Museum, Sweden
Like a trip back in time, this museum is located in the building where the first Ikea opened in 1958. The series of exhibits show the evolution of the affordable furniture famous for its clever design. More than just a bunch of showrooms, the museum explores the relationship between humans and their abodes. Is it any different than visiting your local Ikea store, however? We couldn’t tell the difference.
15. Avanos Hair Museum, Turkey
This creepy cave of hair clippings has an unexpectedly romantic origin story.
Once upon a time, a Turkish potter was leaving town and took a lock of hair from his beloved because he was so sad to leave her. Word of his sorrow got around and women from all over started sending him their own hair. The potter carefully cataloged each and every strand and tacked them up inside an underground cave, as any normal dude would. Now, you can visit this hairy cave. Perfect place for a date.
14. Museum of Sex, USA
There’s no better city than New York to host a museum dedicated to chronicling human sexuality. You have to be 18 or older to enter due to the explicit nature of some of the exhibits, but the museum has education, rather than titillation, in mind.
Founder Daniel Gluck has created a space where scholarship and art combine to celebrate our animal nature in all its glorious variety. Any place the Catholic church calls a “museum of smut” ought to be on your bucket list.
13. Siriraj Medical Museum, Thailand
With exhibits of smashed skulls labeled bluntly “Skull: car accident,” it’s no secret what this museum prizes. Lovingly nicknamed the “Museum of Death,” the exhibits tend toward the macabre but are a valuable resource for the medically curious and students studying pathology, parasitology, and anatomy. The idle public (like us) is mostly drawn to the forensics unit, where the bits and bones of murder victims are on display.
12. Icelandic Phallalogical Museum, Iceland
The name of this museum is kind of hard to wrap your mouth around (bah-dum-ching). Nevertheless, you can thank penis-obsessed founder Sigurður Hjartarson for this delightful attraction in Reykjavic. Modestly toting itself as “probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of animals,” the museum has hundreds of penile specimens. Exhibits include casts of all fifteen members of the Icelandic national handball team. The real thing is also on display in a jar, and the story of how that came to be is worth a Google.
11. The Clown Museum, USA
If you’re a fan of clowns, then this is “The Funnest Museum of Earth,” just like the website says; if you’re scared of these happy tramps, then it could double as a haunted house. Not just a museum, this landmark of Wisconsin is also a Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center.
Inductees include famous clowns Paul Jerome and Emmett Kelly. The founders are dedicated to identifying important moments in clown history. Maybe one day they'll identify weirdo that was creeping on kids in the woods a few years ago.
10. Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia
When your next relationship falls apart, at least it won’t all be for naught. For years, people from around the world have been sending their romance leftovers to Zagreb to be immortalized in a museum exhibit devoted to the dumped. As a result, the collection of personal items includes such keepsakes as an ax used by a lovelorn woman to chop her ex’s furniture to bits after their breakup. I guess he was lucky it was just his furniture.
9. Museum of the Mummies, Mexico
The key to this museum’s curious human exhibits is its location. Guanajuato’s climate is such that buried bodies are naturally mummified without any extra processing. The mummies displayed here were all the victims of a cholera outbreak in 1833. They were disinterred when the local authorities imposed a new burial tax and these corpses didn’t pay up. The experience of visiting the corpses is so haunting, it even inspired a Ray Bradbury story, Next in Line.
8. Glore Psychiatric Museum, USA
Though fascinating, this museum offers troubling insight into the barbaric extremes doctors have gone to in the pursuit of mental health. There are massive steel hydrotherapy tanks where patients would be subjected to freezing cold baths to the point of hypothermia.
A human-sized hamster wheel where patients could run off their excess of nervous energy. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as the inhumane innovations go. Still, it’s a memorable and educational trip, as well as a stern warning to hang onto your sanity, if you have it.
7. Museum of Human Disease, Australia
A resource for the medical community as well as an attraction for the public, the collections at this medical museum in Sydney include embalmed tumors and historical photos of people with leprosy. However serious the subject matter, the museum manages to keep it fun with interactive exhibits and activities for kids.
Enlarged heart made out of Play-Doh, anyone? Sounds like the perfect Mother’s Day gift.
6. Museum of Enduring Beauty, Malaysia
Though some of these images might be unsettling to the Western stomach, it’s a fascinating eye-opener into the differing beauty standards of various cultures. The exhibits include photos and sculptures of global beauty practices, such as scarification and earlobe stretching. The museum also sheds insight into more drastic rituals, such a head molding and foot binding, which wasn’t banned in China until 1912 and apparently still goes on in secret in some communities.
5. Condom Museum, Thailand
The condom museum is so much more than just a room full of rubbers.
It’s two rooms full of rubbers! One of the lesser-known facts about Thailand is that it’s the world’s largest producer of prophylactics, so if you’re curious about the history of this wonderful invention, look no further. Condoms of all sizes, shapes, and flavors are on display as well as other bedroom heroes like lube and… penis pumps? In any case, it’s worth a visit for the condom strength demonstration, which brings to mind childhood water balloon fights of yore.
4. Meguro Parasitological Museum, Japan
This medical museum is small, but it packs a creepy-crawly punch. Devoted to the creatures that live inside of people, the museum has hundreds of specimens of different parasites—many of them pulled from a human body. Especially gnarly is an embalmed 29-foot tapeworm.
3. Corpus Museum, Netherlands
…And if you’ve ever wondered what being a parasite feels like, this is the one place in the world you can find out. The exhibits at this museum allow visitors the experience of crawling around inside the human body. Starting at the mouth, the tour travels through each organ before museum-goers are deposited outside via the intestines—we won’t go into any more detail than that.
2. Kunstkamera, Russia
Established as the first museum in Russia by Peter the Great, the Kunstkamera’s stunning exterior belies the gruesome exhibits you’ll find within. Embalmed human deformities line the walls. Probably the most famous of these is the preserved head of William Mons, a close confidant of Peter I who unfortunately got on the great man’s bad side. He was beheaded in 1792, and his head has rested in the same jar of alcohol since.
1. Plastinarium, Germany
When physician Gunther von Hagens invented plastination, he opened our eyes to human anatomy in a way they ever had been before. The art of infusing tissues with silicon resin, plastination makes perfect replicas of the inner organs, veins, and other body parts possible. The exhibits here feature a cross-section of every inch of the human body displayed for your scientific illumination. Educational value aside, von Hagens is not without a sense of humor; the plastinated tableau of three men playing cards is a favorite among visitors.