9 of the World’s Weirdest Museums

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While museums dedicated to Spam and barbed wire are strange in their specificity, some museums are just plain bizarre in their subject matter. Here are some of the weirdest museums ever curated.

1. Leila’s Hair Museum


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These days, the idea of hair jewelry seems like something that should be left to stalkers and serial killers, but during the Victorian Era, it was common to create and wear jewelry made from hair—especially the hair of loved ones. Leila’s Hair Museum features a variety of hair wreaths and jewelry pieces from the Victorian period and earlier, dating all the way back to 1680. They even have pieces containing hair from Queen Victoria, U.S. presidents and Marilyn Monroe.

The owner, Leila Cohoon, teaches classes on turning hair into jewelry and artworks. Of 30 known techniques demonstrated in the museum’s collection, she has mastered 26 and is still working to reverse-engineer the processes for the last four.

2. Icelandic Phallological Museum

You can probably guess what’s hidden behind these doors, but you’d still probably be surprised by the extent of the museum, which houses the largest collection of penises, penile parts and penile-inspired art in the world, including 280 specimens from over 93 animal species. There are even specimens from elves and trolls, but they are invisible just like the rest of the creatures, according to Icelandic folklore. While they currently have one human specimen, it was not properly removed and preserved, so they continue to search for a “younger and a bigger and better one.”

If you’re wondering just how popular a museum like this could possibly be, it’s actually quite popular, attracting thousands of visitors a year. It's even inspired a Canadian documentary called The Final Member.

3. Giant Shoe Museum

Located in the famous Pike Place Market of Seattle, the Giant Shoe Museum is a single exhibit wall located on the outside of the Old Seattle Paperworks store and brings a lot of business to the shop as a result. To see the museum’s collection, visitors must drop quarters into coin boxes and then look through stereoscope viewing slots that reveal views of a variety of giant shoes including a size 37 shoe worn by the world’s tallest man, a real clown shoe and the world’s largest collection of giant shoes.

4. Washington Banana Museum

Ann Mitchell Lovell really loves bananas. In fact, she loves them enough to not only run the Washington Banana Museum, which features almost 4000 items related to the world’s best-selling fruit, but to also upload photos of her favorite items from the museum online so those who can’t make it to the physical location can still enjoy the virtual Banana Museum.

5. Meguro Parasitological Museum

The only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to parasites, the Meguro Parasitological Museum would be a great place to do research for that horror film you’ve been working on. The first floor merely shows where different parasites live in Japan, but once you head upstairs, the real horror show starts, featuring samples of parasites including the world’s longest tapeworm—which measures almost 29 feet long—and photos of people and animals infested with parasites.

6. Roswell UFO Museum

Was it a weather balloon or something more? While the Roswell UFO Museum merely asks that you keep an open mind and ask as many questions as possible about the Roswell incident of 1947, the name should tell you that the curators have already made up their minds about what was spotted in the sky that fateful night.

Exhibits include information on the event, crop circles, other UFO sightings, Area 51, and abductions. Regardless of your personal opinion about UFOs, there’s no denying that the museum has been quite successful: Since it opened its doors in 1992, it has outgrown two different locations, and now occupies an old movie theater.

7. Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum


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Hopefully the parasite museum doesn’t make you lose your appetite, because the Ramen Museum is only an hour away, and you certainly won’t want to be thinking about massively long tapeworms while looking at delicious, delicate ramen noodles from some of the top ramen restaurants in Japan. As you might expect, this is one tasty tour, as the museum allows you to taste some of the most famous noodles from throughout the country.

8. Beijing Tap Water Museum

One of the key ingredients you need to make ramen is water, so when you’re done with weird museums in Japan, maybe you should head to China to learn more about tap water, specifically the history of the first water plant in Beijing. Here you can study over 300 items to better familiarize yourself with the 100 year-old history of tap water in China. The best thing about this museum is that any of its drinking fountains can provide you with an enduring souvenir of your trip.

9. International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum

No one likes having their car towed away because they parked somewhere they shouldn’t, but if you’ve ever been helped out by a tow truck when your car has broken down in the middle of nowhere, then you know just how useful the service can be. For those who have experienced the latter enough to develop adoration for towing, a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee might be in order so you can visit the Museum of Towing. Here you can learn all there is to know about the rich history of towing and some of the industry’s most famous individuals.

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September 29, 2012 - 3:15pm
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