9 of the World’s Weirdest Museums

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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David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as His Movies
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

As IndieWire reports, each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature, respectively, drawings of a house and a whale), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained for years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store currently sells 57 T-shirts, ranging in size from small to triple XL, all for $26 each. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a sleeping bird on it
"Sleeping Bird"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.
"Lobster"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy
"Cowboy"

Buy it on Amazon

[h/t IndieWire]

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8 Projects That Reenvision the Traditional Cemetery
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Globally, nearly 57 million people died in 2016. If you happen to be a cemetery caretaker, you might be wondering where we managed to put them all. Indeed, many cemeteries in the world’s major cities are filling up fast, with no choice left but to tear up walkways, trees, and green spaces just to make room for more graves.

In response to these concerns, a variety of visionaries have attempted to reimagine the modern cemetery. These plans tend to fall into one of two camps: Biologists and environmentalists have brainstormed alternate methods for disposing of bodies, some of which are said to be better for the planet than the traditional methods of burial and cremation. Meanwhile, architects have looked at ways of adapting the burial space itself, whether that means altering a traditional cemetery or creating something new and more ephemeral. Here are just a few of the creative ideas that have emerged in recent years.

1. VERTICAL CEMETERIES

As cemeteries started running out of ground to dig, it was only a matter of time before they started building up. There's been a lot of talk about skyscraper cemeteries in recent years, although the idea dates back to at least 1829, when British architect Thomas Willson proposed a 94-story mausoleum in London.

"The vertical cemetery, with its open front, will become a significant part of the city and a daily reminder of death’s existence," says Martin McSherry, whose design for an open-air skyscraper cemetery with layers of park-like burial grounds was one of the proposals presented at the Oslo Conference for Nordic Cemeteries and Graveyards in 2013. Another recent plan by architecture students in Sweden suggested repurposing a cluster of silos into a vertical columbarium (a place to store urns). Brazil’s Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica was one of the first places to implement this vertical concept back in 1984, and at 32 stories high, it currently holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest cemetery.

2. REUSABLE GRAVES

For much of human history, graves were often reused, or common graves were dug deep enough to accommodate multiple bodies stacked one on top of the other. “Our current cemetery design is actually a pretty new thing,” Allison Meier, a New York City cemetery tour guide (and Mental Floss writer), tells us. “It wasn’t normal for everyone to get a headstone in the past and we didn’t have these big sprawling green spaces.”

Now that many urban cemeteries are filling up, the idea of reusing plots is once again gaining popularity. In London, it’s estimated that only one-third of the city’s boroughs will have burial space by 2031. In response, the City of London Cemetery—one of the biggest cemeteries in Britain—has started reusing certain grave plots (the practice is legal in the city, even though grave reuse is outlawed elsewhere in England).

Across continental Europe, however, it's not uncommon for graves to be "rented" rather than bought for all eternity. In countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Greece, families can hold a plot for their loved one as long as they continue to pay a rental fee. If they stop paying, the grave may be reused, with the previous remains either buried deeper or relocated to a common grave.

Meier says she isn’t aware of any cemeteries in New York City that have started reusing their plots, though. “That’s a tough thing for Americans to get on board with because it’s been a normal practice in a lot of places, but it’s never been normal here,” she says.

3. A FLOATING COLUMBARIUM

A rendering of a floating columbarium
BREAD Studio

Ninety percent of bodies in Hong Kong are cremated, according to CNN, and niches in the city's public columbaria are at a premium. The average wait for a space is about four years, sparking concerns that Hong Kongers could be forced to move their loved ones' ashes across the border to mainland China, where more space is available. (A space at a private columbarium in Hong Kong can be prohibitively expensive, at a cost of about $128,000.) To address this issue, a proposal emerged in 2012 to convert a cruise ship into a floating columbarium dubbed the “Floating Eternity.” Designed by Hong Kong and London-based architecture firm BREAD Studio, the columbarium would be able to accommodate the ashes of 370,000 people. Although it's still just an idea, BREAD Studio designer Benny Lee tells CNN, "A floating cemetery is the next natural step in Hong Kong's history of graveyards."

4. UNDERWATER MEMORIALS

An underwater lion sculpture and other memorials
Neptune Reef

Land may be limited, but the sea is vast—and several companies want to take the cemetery concept underwater. At Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida, human ashes are mixed with cement to create unique memorials in the shape of seashells and other objects of the client's choice. The memorials are then taken by divers to the ocean floor and incorporated into a human-made reef designed to look like the Lost City of Atlantis. Eternal Reefs, based out of Sarasota, Florida, offers a similar service.

5. SPACE MEMORIALS

Not a water person? Try space instead. Elysium Space, a San Francisco-based company founded by a former software engineer at NASA, offers a couple of “celestial services.” At a cost of nearly $2500, the Shooting Star Memorial “delivers a symbolic portion of your loved one’s remains to Earth’s orbit, only to end this celestial journey as a shooting star,” while the Lunar Memorial will deliver a "symbolic portion" of human remains to the surface of the moon for a fee of nearly $10,000. Another company, Celestis, offers similar services ranging in price from $1300 to $12,500.

6. HUMAN COMPOSTING

Shoveling soil
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Critics of burial and cremation say both are bad for the environment. To address the need for a memorial method that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, waste resources, or release carcinogenic embalming fluid into the soil, a number of eco-friendly options have emerged. One such innovation is the “mushroom burial suit," a head-to-toe outfit that's lined with mushroom spores designed to devour human tissue and absorb the body's toxins. Another company, Recompose, espouses human composting—a process by which a corpse would be converted into a cubic yard of soil, which could then be used to nurture new life in a garden. The procedure isn’t legal yet, but the company plans to work with the Washington State legislature to make it available to the general public before eventually rolling it out nationwide.

7. DEATH AS ART

Many innovative proposals have emerged from the DeathLAB at Columbia University, including a plan to convert human biomass (organic matter) into light. The design—a constellation of light that would serve as both a memorial and art installation—won a competition hosted by Future Cemetery, a collaboration between the University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society and media company Calling the Shots. John Troyer, director of the UK-based center, says they're working on raising funds to install a concept piece based on that design at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, England, but any usage of actual biomass would have to be cleared through the proper regulatory channels first. According to DeathLAB, the project would save significant space—within six years, it would more than double the capacity of the cemetery orchard where the memorials would be installed.

8. VIRTUAL CEMETERIES

As virtual reality technology gets more and more advanced, some question whether a physical cemetery is needed at all. The website iVeneration.com, founded by a Hong Kong entrepreneur, lets users "create virtual headstones anywhere in an augmented reality landscape of Hong Kong, including such unlikely places as a downtown park," as Reuters describes it. In Japan, one online cemetery allows the bereaved to “light” incense, share memories of their loved one in comments, and even grab a virtual glass of beer. Similarly, an app called RiPCemetery created a social network where users can craft a virtual memorial and share photos of the deceased.

However, Troyer says he doesn’t believe technology will ever usurp the need for physical spaces. “A lot of the companies talking about digital solutions talk about ‘forever’—and that’s very complicated with the internet, because the virtual material we create can easily disappear," he told the The Guardian. "The lowly gravestone has been a very successful human technology, and I suspect it will last … I would go with granite.”

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