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6 Bizarre Museums You Can Visit From The Comfort Of Your Desk

1. The Toaster Museum

You don't know toasters. What you're picturing in your head when you hear the word "toaster" could not possibly encompass the infinite variety and curiosity of the subject. Jens Veerbeck, a media designer and purveyor of a gorgeously accessible web museum, does know toasters. And he wants to show us how exciting the design history is of the machine that makes the most boring food on earth. He says it best himself: "The design of each single toaster is like a small window to the design trend of the corresponding decade and country. The variety of designs is unbelievable: There are Art Deco and Art Nouveau toasters, raw or crazy technical constructions, streamlined toasters from the '50s, and porcelain pieces matching to the flower patterns of contemporary dinnerware." And we thought they just toasted bread.

2. The Museum of Menstruation

Half the earth's population menstruates for several decades of their lives. But do you know what a lady used for those particular hygienic needs in, say, 1700? Back before women even wore undies? That's a great question. And up until recently, you could spend hours in libraries and probably never find an answer. It just wasn't the sort of thing that got written down.

But the Museum of Menstruation (The MuM) has tracked down multiple answers to those questions, and many more. But they don't just cover the fascinating, deeply shushed history of The Curse of Eve. The site keeps up to date on women's health issues, reproduction issues, and a surprising amount of news about menstruation. They also have a collection of some of the funniest retro magazine ads on the web. Trying to advertise your menstrual product without ever acknowledging menstruation exists was a fascinating challenge faced by advertisers of old. And that's just a portion of the information The MuM has to offer.

3. The Moist Towelette Museum

Sometimes it's not the depth of knowledge to be gained that draws you to an online museum. It's the curious thrill you feel to find out such a museum even exists. And not just exists, but is so hardily overwhelmed with interest and donations that the curator, in this case a Mr. John French, can't keep up with them all.

4. The Big Ashtray Museum

There is a two-fold intrigue to this online museum. One, the materials used to create ashtrays, heat resistant and moldable, readily lend themselves to incredible works of art. And second, it's one of the few non-electric objects of our time that we're getting to watch, firsthand, fade into history. Ashtrays are falling hard, from "one in every room in America" to display cases in museums. The Big Ashtray Museum displays a truly breathtaking array of a dying art form spanning the globe and history, as well as showcasing forgotten designs, some so unique you'd be hard pressed to identify them as ashtrays.

5. The Online Paper Airplane Museum

The Online Paper Airplane Museum doesn't just show you photographs of the outstanding marriage of engineering and delicacy that is the paper airplane (though they do have hundreds of images). It also provides directions and links for the construction of hundreds of unique planes. They are rated by difficulty level, meaning you can start with the simple Jet airplane we all flew in third grade, and work your way up to a level 5 Achi Val. Whether your passion is aviation history, design, or paper-craft, the Online Paper Airplane Museum has something for you.

6. The Opium Museum

The history of opium is one of trade, war, changing cultures, and astounding artwork. The online Opium Museum takes you from the pre-Communist days of open opium indulgence in China up to the day it became a controlled substance in America. In between are rarely seen photographs and surprisingly beautiful artifacts of the opium culture.

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Liberty Science Center
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Space
New Jersey Is Now Home to the Western Hemisphere's Largest Planetarium
Liberty Science Center
Liberty Science Center

Space-loving tourists often travel to Manhattan to visit the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. But starting December 9, they’ll be able to get their fill of stars and planets in nearby Jersey City. As Astronomy reports, New Jersey’s second-most-populous city is now home to the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, and the fourth largest in the world.

The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, an interactive science museum in Liberty State Park, opened in 1993. It’s home to 12 museum exhibition halls, aquariums, a live animal collection, and an IMAX dome theater. On July 31, 2017, the theater was closed for extensive renovations, thanks to a $5 million gift from an altruistic former high school teacher-turned-philanthropist, Jennifer Chalsty, who’s served as a science center trustee since 2004.

Renamed the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the IMAX theater received a digital upgrade and a brand-new screen, and was provided with the requisite technology to serve as a planetarium. The theater’s dome is 60 feet high, with a diameter of 89 feet, and its 10-projector system broadcasts onto a 12,345-square-foot domed screen.

There are only three planetariums in the world that are larger than the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, and they’re all located in China and Japan. “You can fit any other planetarium in the Western Hemisphere inside the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium,” said Paul Hoffman, the science center's president and CEO, in a press release. “Add in the state-of-the-art technology and you have a spectacular unique theater like none other in the world. Visitors will be able to fly through the universe, experience the grandness and vastness of space, roam planetary surfaces, navigate asteroid fields, and watch the latest full-dome movies."

[h/t Astronomy]

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Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo
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History
The Funky History of George Washington's Fake Teeth
Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo
Screenshot via Mount Vernon/Vimeo

George Washington may have the most famous teeth—or lack thereof—in American history. But counter to what you may have heard about the Founding Father's ill-fitting dentures, they weren't made of wood. In fact, he had several sets of dentures throughout his life, none of which were originally trees. And some of them are still around. The historic Mount Vernon estate holds the only complete set of dentures that has survived the centuries, and the museum features a video that walks through old George's dental history.

Likely due to genetics, poor diet, and dental disease, Washington began losing his original teeth when he was still a young man. By the time he became president in 1789, he only had one left in his mouth. The dentures he purchased to replace his teeth were the most scientifically advanced of the time, but in the late 18th century, that didn't mean much.

They didn't fit well, which caused him pain, and made it difficult to eat and talk. The dentures also changed the way Washington looked. They disfigured his face, causing his lips to noticeably stick out. But that doesn't mean Washington wasn't grateful for them. When he finally lost his last surviving tooth, he sent it to his dentist, John Greenwood, who had made him dentures of hippo ivory, gold, and brass that accommodated the remaining tooth while it still lived. (The lower denture of that particular pair is now held at the New York Academy of Medicine.)

A set of historic dentures
George Washington's Mount Vernon

These days, no one would want to wear dentures like the ones currently held at Mount Vernon (above). They're made of materials that would definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth. The base that fit the fake teeth into the jaw was made of lead. The top teeth were sourced from horses or donkeys, and the bottom were from cows and—wait for it—people.

These teeth actually deteriorated themselves, revealing the wire that held them together. The dentures open and shut thanks to metal springs, but because they were controlled by springs, if he wanted to keep his mouth shut, Washington had to permanently clench his jaw. You can get a better idea of how the contraption worked in the video from Mount Vernon below.

Washington's Dentures from Mount Vernon on Vimeo.

There are plenty of lessons we can learn from the life of George Washington, but perhaps the most salient is this: You should definitely, definitely floss.

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