7 Offbeat Museums Worth Visiting

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Museum of Clean

Unleash your inner oddball! The summer nights may be dwindling, but you still have time to visit these far-out museums.

1. Museum of Clean: Pocatello, Idaho

If the hoarder in your life needs an intervention, look no further than the Museum of CleanAt 75,000 sq. feet, the museum is half a city block dedicated to teaching us how to tidy our lives. Originally a museum of cleaning supplies, the museum encourages people to declutter and live simply. The main attraction for neat freaks? A collection of almost 1000 vacuums (above). The exhibits, by the way, are spotless.

2. The House on the Rock: near Spring Green, Wisconsin

Flickr: DonovanBeeson

Put this on your list of things to see right now—it is the capital of kitsch. Possibly the largest collection of oddities in the world, the House on the Rock is every roadside attraction packed into one. The complex is colossal; it can take hours to navigate. You’ll see the world’s largest carousel, a gaudy whirling wheel with 269 animals and 182 chandeliers (above). The main attraction, though, is the infinity room, a 218-foot cantilever over the Wyoming Valley. 

3. Museum of Bad Art: Brookline and Somerville, Massachusetts

Museum of Bad Art

Marketed as “art too bad to be ignored,” the Museum of Bad Art owns over 250 terrible pieces that were salvaged from thrift shops and trash bags. MOBA currently runs out of two locations, with 25 works usually exhibited at once. If you love art and have a sense of humor, you’ll love the collection of watered-down watercolors and fudged paint-by-numbers. 

4. The American Sign Museum: Camp Washington, Ohio

The American Sign Museum

If the hum of neon makes you nostalgic, a trip to the American Sign Museum will send you daydreaming down memory lane. It displays over 500 signs from the late 1800s to the 1970s, showcasing colorful relics that dotted Main Streets of yore.

5. World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things:  Lucas, Kansas

Erika Nelson loves roadside attractions as much as she loves superlatives. Since 2002, she’s traveled the country looking for the world’s largest objects (like the 8-ton ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas, or the world’s largest ketchup bottle in Collinsville, Illinois). After visiting the attraction, she makes a small model and adds it to her traveling museum. Her goal? To get more Americans to appreciate the country’s unique roadside stops and shops instead of the generic malls and restaurants we’re so used to visiting.

6. Museum of Jurassic Technology: Los Angeles, California

Museum of Jurassic Technology

This place will make your brain hurt. But go anyway. Just don’t be disappointed by the lack of dinosaurs or cavemen. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a confusing, amusing labyrinth of curios—a house of wonders parodying the museums of yesteryear. Like the Cabinet of Curiosities popular during the Renaissance, the exhibits are unclassifiable. It’s art. It’s history. It’s science. It’s satire. It’s fact-filled tidbits wrapped in absolute bologna. 

7. National Mustard Museum: Middleton, Wisconsin

Flickr: Ann Althouse

Barry Levenson was depressed. His beloved Red Sox had just lost the 1986 World Series, and he couldn’t cope. To distract himself from the loss, he did what any fan would do—he started a mustard collection. Now his museum displays over 5500 kinds of mustards from over 70 countries. The gigantic store houses all things mustard and is home base to the condiment’s unofficial university: Poupon U.

From the morbid Mütter Museum in Philly to the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco, there are hundreds more wacky museums in the States. Give us your recommendations in the comments!

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August 15, 2013 - 11:00am
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