Step off the beaten museum track and have a look inside the world’s most bizarre, unique or quite freaky collections. From curried sausages and Napoleon’s socks to the longest human parasite (yuck!), these museums display truly fascinating yet sometimes striking artefacts.
1. The Toilet Seat Art Museum
Apparently, there is a museum of almost everything that plays an important role in our lives, and so is the museum of toilet seats (nobody would deny the importance of toilets for human beings). The Toilet Seat Art Museum, established and run by Barney Smith (now in his eighties) in San Antonio, Texas, displays a collection of around 900 toilet seats, all decorated by Mr. Smith, a retired plumber. The inspiration comes from the museum founder’s trips around the world, and some of the decorations are also mailed to him from all over the world. If you are planning a visit to Mr. Smith’s, keep in mind that there is no toilet in the garage-based museum.
2. The Meguro Parasitological Museum
Leeches, hookworms, roundworms, flukes, and nematodes create a gross yet fascinating collection presented in Tokyo’s Meguro Parasitological Museum. In this wonderful world of worms, as the museum’s slogan reads, one can find such quirky examples as a giant herpetological parasite poking out of a bottled turtle’s head, a riddled dog’s heart (due to heartworms attack), an 8.8-m-long tapeworm extracted from a human body (the world’s longest tapeworm, by the way), or a stomach of an infected dolphin. The museum even houses a gift shop where one can buy a “nice” parasite souvenir.
3. The Bata Shoe Museum
Toronto, Canada, also has its own freaky museum. The Bata Shoe Museum displays 12,500 exhibits from socks to amazing footwear from all over the world and spans 4,500 years of history of shoes and related accessories. This unusual museum was established by Sonja Bata (from the shoe giant family) who travelled around the globe in order to build up a collection of traditional footwear from every corner of the world.
4. The Museum of Bad Arts
MOBA (the Museum of Bad Arts) exhibits “art too bad to be ignored”. The museum’s two galleries located in the basements of the Somerville Theatre and Dedham Community Theatre comprise around 500 really hopeless pieces of art, but only around 30 pictures are on public display at any one time. The museum’s founders admit that something must have gone horribly wrong in the process of creating the pieces, but the artists were sincere enough to reveal their paintings.
5. The Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, located in Baltimore, the USA, is a journey through a fantasyland of childhood. The toy and gadget lovers will find a broad collection of pop culture artifacts here, from comic books, toys, and posters, to cereal boxes, dolls, badges and many other items. You can easily lose yourself in an array of 6,000 pop culture memorabilia that will easily lead your imagination to revisit the childhood and meet your favorite characters such as Superman or Mickey Mouse.
6. The Corkscrew Museum
Beautiful Barolo, located in the Italian region of Piedmont, is home to the Corkscrew Museum. Where else could such museum be located if not in Italy, a country of the world’s best wines and picturesque vineyards? The tiny museum surprises with an excellent collection of corkscrews from all around the world. For example, did you know that corkscrews could be made of aluminium, bone, brass, iron, pearl, bronze, ivory, silver, wood or even tortoise shell? The museum exhibits 500 corkscrews dating from the 18th century until today as well as postcards depicting a great variety of them.
7. The Currywurst Museum
Given that around 800 million currywurst pieces per year are consumed in Germany, the Currywurst Museum located in Berlin strikes little wonder. The museum was opened in 2009, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the creation of the dish. Apparently, it was in 1949 that Herta Heuwer came up with the currywurst. She mixed ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder and poured it over a grilled sausage. Today, the dish is a national obsession.
You will never be the same after a visit to the Velveteria, as the museum’s website informs. Whether it is a life-changing experience or not, the museum’s weird collection has the potential to leave a big impression on its viewers. Velveteria, established by Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin, a couple from Portland, USA, is the world’s only museum devoted to black velvet paintings. The museum displays around 400 pictures, but it is only a sample of the 2,000 dark, mysterious pieces that can be found in the couple’s personal collection. Apparently, the museum is about to close down and move to California soon.
9. The International UFO Museum
If you are looking for aliens, head to Roswell, a town in New Mexico, USA. Opened in 1991, the quirky museum and its research centre refer in their exhibits to the events of 1947. The legend has it that in July 1947 a ranch foreman discovered several alien bodies and a crashed flying saucer. The evidence was captured, however, by the US military and the government later claimed the flying object was a weather balloon. Today, the museum tries to rediscover the truth, presenting newspaper clippings, photographs and speculations about the Roswell incident. Among the museum’s main attraction is a prop alien corpse dummy featured in the “Roswell: the UFO Coverup” movie.
10. The Kyoto International Manga Museum
Germans have their currywurst, Italians cherish corkscrews, and the Japanese are manga fans. The Kyoto International Manga Museum opened in 2006 and became almost an institution for youngsters trying to look like nothing but the manga characters. Actually, the museum serves as a library with as many as 200,000 (!) books which can be read a paid admission. Among many historical items there is the first manga magazine Eshinbun Nihonchi from 1874 and the first children’s manga magazine established in 1907.