Jeffrey Strean, Cleveland Museum of Art 
Jeffrey Strean, Cleveland Museum of Art 

10 Supposedly Haunted Museums

Jeffrey Strean, Cleveland Museum of Art 
Jeffrey Strean, Cleveland Museum of Art 

There are places you expect to be populated with ghosts—catacombs, museums of horrors, creaky houses with attics and hidden passages. And then there are ghosts in places you might not expect—like the pristine halls of a museum. Nevertheless ghosts seem to congregate in these 10 museums, for reasons we mere mortals can only guess.

1. THE CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART

Claude Monet, the forefather of French Impressionism, was perhaps most recognizable for his full salt-and-pepper beard and penchant for bowler hats. These are also the traits that defined him for the staff of the Cleveland Museum of Art, where Monet’s ghost was purportedly photographed surveying the site of a new installation, Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse.

“What are the chances someone looks like that and happens to be at the museum the day we are finishing installation?” Caroline Guscott, communications director for the museum, wrote in an email to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In the scene captured by the museum’s director of design and architecture Jeffrey Strean, the Monet look-alike stands on a balcony overlooking the exhibition space, directly above a vintage image of the artist himself. It might just be a stunt designed to draw attention to the installation—or it could be the specter of Claude Monet returned to watch over his work.

The Cleveland Museum of Art seems to be an attractive location for ghostly residents of all sorts. The museum records purported paranormal events, and it published a blog post in 2010 detailing the most common happenings

One particular gallery seems responsible for extinguishing flashlights at random, while former museum director William Mathewson Milliken has been spotted wandering the original museum space, known as the 1916 Building. Milliken came on board at the museum in 1919 and was promoted to director in 1930, a position he held until his retirement in 1958. He died in 1978. Milliken now appears in a tweed jacket, a folder tucked beneath his arm.

The subject of Portrait of Jean-Gabriel du Theil at the Signing of the Treaty of Vienna, an oil painting by Jacques André Joseph Aved, has also been sighted observing his own likeness. And though the gallery space where the painting previously hung had often been prey to electrical and mechanical issues, when the painting was placed in storage, the issues stopped.

2. MUSEUM OF THE ALBEMARLE // ELIZABETH CITY, NORTH CAROLINA

MyLivability, Youtube

It’s not the new museum building itself that plays host to otherworldly denizens—it’s the transplanted Jackson House, according to paranormal investigator Mark Anderson of North Carolina Paranormal Research. He told mental_floss he was first drawn to the site because of some of its antique items; the museum owns several possessions that once belonged to a young woman who was murdered in Elizabeth City (the crime was never solved). Anderson suspected there might be some foundation to rumors of the occult in the area.

Anderson explained that Jackson House was first constructed back in the 18th century by a North Carolina family named Jackson. It was dismantled and moved to the Albemarle museum site, and that's where what Anderson described as the “major event” of his investigation occurred. During a walk-through in 2013, one of his investigators felt a light prodding. When she asked if there was anything she could do to assist the spirit, the response came back in a man’s deep tones: “Get out.”

3. MERCHANT’S HOUSE MUSEUM // NEW YORK CITY

Merchant's House Museum 

Wedged between two residential buildings on an unassuming block just east of Manhattan’s Lafayette Street sits the Merchant’s House Museum. You have to ring the doorbell to gain entry to the house, which is still populated by the possessions—and perhaps the spirits—of the Tredwell family, who lived there from 1835 to 1933.

“Most historic house museums have to sort of cobble together furniture that’s period-appropriate but that didn’t actually belong to the house,” explained Emily Wright, communications and programs manager at the museum. (Wright herself has never had a paranormal experience, but says she has heard “compelling” reports from fellow staff members, volunteers, and visitors alike.) However, most of the objects in the Merchant’s House have been there for well over 100 years. “The 19th century is very palpable here,” Wright says. Some say this makes the museum a particularly apt home for the spirits of those who once resided there.

Each year, paranormal investigator Dan Sturges comes to the museum to document the ghostly activity through photographs and audio recordings.

“The museum would never come out and definitively say, ‘Yes, we’re haunted,’” Wright said. Yet visitors have matched reported sightings with images of the family, including Gertrude, the youngest daughter, who died in 1933; Seabury, the father; Elizabeth, the eldest sister; and Samuel, the younger brother, as well as several unidentified servants.

4. PENANG WAR MUSEUM // PULAU PINANG, MALAYSIA

Chris Price, Flickr

Originally a British fort built in the 1930s, the building that is now the Penang War Museum, which sits atop the Bukit Batu Maung in Malaysia, fell to a Japanese offensive during World War II. The Japanese occupied the site in the following years, and the locals began calling it “Bukit Hantu”—Ghost Hill—due to the volume of prisoners tortured and beheaded at the garrison.

Though restored and opened to the public in 2002, the haunts of its dark past still linger at the Penang War Museum. Bukit Hantu was featured on a 2013 episode of the National Geographic Channel series I Wouldn’t Go In There, which named it one of the 10 most notorious haunted locations in Asia.

5. FORT WORTH MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND HISTORY

Jeff Stavan, Flickr

An image surfaced earlier this month that purports to show a mysterious, goblin-like figure lurking in the background of a play area at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. However, a former museum employee, Jim Miller, was quick to dismiss the image, which had drawn attention on Reddit. Miller noted that the figure's pose seemed fairly banal: “It looks like the all-too-familiar position of putting toys away—something we as employees or parents would do,” he told the Dallas Observer. Though there are any number of mundane explanations for the image, Miller, who worked at the museum for two years, also told the Observer that he had heard reports of eerie events around the Titanic exhibit and of shadows moving across security footage.

6. FREDERIC REMINGTON MUSEUM

Frederic Remington Museum

Like many historical houses-turned-museums, the Frederic Remington Museum may play host to a few otherworldly denizens. The reigning mythology of the museum, according to director Laura Foster, is the story of Madame Ameriga Vespucci, a woman who traveled to the United States in the 19th century and was reputed to be “won in a game of cards.” Newspapers began reporting hauntings at the museum in the 1940s, Foster said, though the claims may have been embellished to increase interest in the museum.

In March 2015, a local psychic medium named Freda Gladle conducted a walk-through of the museum to investigate reports of hauntings, accompanied by museum volunteer Donna Wright. The inquiry dovetailed with a simultaneous Clarkson University study of the air quality. Several undergraduate students, under the guidance of Shane Rogers, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, were investigating the claim that airborne organisms could provoke paranormal experiences.

Wright explained that there were no full-time spirits residing in the main museum, but she and Gladle did encounter some residual energy. (As Mark Anderson, who investigated the Albemarle museum, described it, residual energy is “energy that has impressed itself into an area.”) The image of a woman—likely Vespucci—appeared to assure the investigators that she was not won in a card game. But a “nasty” former owner inhabits the neighboring children’s museum, according to a transcription of the walk-through. An image purporting to show a ghost superimposed on the museum has been debunked as a hoax, though that doesn’t prevent reports of other supernatural occurrences.

7. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION BUILDING

brownpau, Flickr

The Smithsonian Institution opened its doors in 1855, and during its 150-year history it has accumulated more than a few ghost stories. The Smithsonian "Castle," the museum’s administrative and information headquarters, is rumored to host many of these spectral residents—including founding donor James Smithson, whose remains have been interred at the museum since 1904.

Smithson was briefly disinterred in 1973 to investigate claims that his ghost stalked the museum by night. The survey revealed that his skeleton was, in fact, still in its proper place inside the coffin—though this doesn’t discount the possibility that his spirit lives out in the galleries. (Museum scientists had other motives aside from paranormal investigations, including studying the coffin in which he was buried and documents rumored to have gone to the grave with him.)

In 2009, Richard Stamm, the Castle’s curator, told Smithsonian magazine that he had never witnessed a ghost in the halls of the museum. But sightings date back to 1900, when the Washington Post described the ghost of Spencer Fullerton Baird, the museum’s first curator, continuing to walk the halls. Paleontologist Fielding B. Meek has also appeared on occasion—in 1876, he died in one of the Castle’s towers, where he had resided with his cat.

Other rumored sightings include explorer Emil Bessels and secretary Joseph Henry, both of whom devoted their lives to the museum. It makes sense that their spirits would remain at the site, ensuring their legacy is intact.

8. MAD RIVER & NKP RAILROAD SOCIETY MUSEUM // BELLEVUE, OHIO

J.L. Nelson, Flickr

Founded in 1972, the Railroad Society Museum sits on a property in Bellevue, Ohio, formerly occupied by a large mansion-turned-YMCA. In 2010, the Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits (ORBS) conducted a survey of the site in response to rumors of paranormal activity around an abandoned train on the grounds. ORBS joined Deedee Runkle, the museum’s gift shop manager and daughter of its founder, and together they discovered that her father still resided on the premises, “watching over the grounds.” Or, at the very least, a spirit told the investigators he recognized two among their number—presumably Deedee and her mother. A deceased hobo named Steam Train Maury Graham who once frequented the trains was also captured standing on the back of one of the cabooses.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a museum where we didn’t capture some sort of EVP [electronic voice phenomenon] or some sort of disembodied voice or some sort of picture or video,” explained paranormal investigator Karlo Zuzic, project manager for ORBS. “Spirits can attach themselves to certain items.” That is, museums make particularly good homes for hauntings due to the high concentration of artifacts housed within their walls.

9. TORQUAY MUSEUM

Paul Hutchinson, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Paranormal investigators have expressed doubts about a recent photo that surfaced from the Torquay Museum in Devon, United Kingdom, depicting a blonde woman hovering in an exhibit of an 18th-century farmhouse. She was captured on film during an investigation by Real Investigators of the Paranormal back in May, according to the Huffington Post, but peer paranormal investigators have expressed some doubts as to the legitimacy of the image.

Ben Radford, an investigator and deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, told the Huffington Post he suspects that “there may be some confirmation bias going on here." That is, museum employees hope for evidence of the paranormal, and find their suspicions confirmed in this image.

Torquay Museum was founded in 1844 and possesses a dense collection of antique artifacts. “We’ve had a lot of spooky activity at the museum. Books will just fly off the shelves in the shop and people have said they have spotted a Victorian lady in a blue dress,” Carl Smith, the museum’s manager, told the Daily Mail.

10. INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons

Though the museum would never confirm or deny a haunting, two current Institute employees, Willie Mendez and Troy Simchak, have each had uncanny experiences as they walked the halls. Though Mendez, who has worked at the museum for 23 years, said that supernatural occurrences aren’t a daily phenomenon, he also said that he encountered a “full body apparition” in one of the exhibits. A Native American woman, likely of the Caddo people, appeared to him once; he’s also felt his shirt tugged, heard his name called with no one else around, and seen shadows moving in the corner of his vision. This was echoed by Simchak, who, though he said he came to the museum a skeptic, says he has overheard mumbled conversations in muffled tones with no mundane explanations.

The museum is located in San Antonio, Texas, whose colonial history extends to the 18th century. Mendez said that the spooky occurrences might be connected to buried history below the museum, or to the nature of the ancient artifacts it houses. And in addition to the occasional eerie sound or sight, Mendez said that the museum’s first two directors might still wander the third floor where they once lived. How else to explain the smell of cherry tobacco that sometimes permeates the halls?

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11 of the Most Extreme Junk Foods Ever Created
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It should come as no surprise that National Junk Food Day is traditionally celebrated on July 21—smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, when the streets run thick with ice cream trucks and county fairs boast the kind of fried treats that can only be described as “awesome” (both in the modern sense and the more dated, whoa, we are in awe of that usage). But National Junk Food Day shouldn’t be celebrated with commonplace junk food; oh, no, it deserves something far bigger and better. So save your potato chips and chocolate bars for another day, and get ready to try some truly wild treats.

1. THE KFC DOUBLE DOWN


KFC

Perhaps the most unexpectedly clever way to create a new extreme junk food item is to turn a non-junky foodstuff into something that just oozes calories and decadence. Fried chicken giant KFC knew that—and played it up to major effect—when they introduced the KFC Double Down to America back in 2010. The sandwich foregoes the most traditional aspect of any sandwich (the bread!) and substitutes two fried chicken filets. In between the two pieces of chicken? Bacon, two different kinds of cheese, and the Colonel’s “secret sauce.” There’s no room for a bun here, folks.

2. PIZZA HUT'S HOT DOG STUFFED CRUST PIZZA

We may associate items like fast food pizza and hot dog-stuffed anything with all-American palates, but cheesy juggernaut Pizza Hut saw things a bit differently. In 2012, the chain introduced a pizza with a hot dog-stuffed crust to our neighbors across the pond, treating their UK customers to the kind of taste sensation some people might have had literal nightmares about. Is it a pizza? Is it a hot dog? Somehow, it’s both—and yet something much more.

3. FRIENDLY'S GRILLED CHEESE BURGERMELT


Friendly's

Once again, a wily restaurant chain took a normal food item—in this case, a hamburger—and amped up its junk factor by doing away with something as commonplace as buns, in favor of an entirely different (and, yes, very junky) item. In 2010, Friendly’s rolled out its very own spin on the Double Down, slamming a regular old burger between not one, but two grilled cheese sandwiches. Who needs buns when you can have four pieces of bread, gooey cheese, and unfathomable amounts of butter?

4. GUY FIERI'S CHEESECAKE CHALLENGE

Whiz-bang chef Guy Fieri has long drawn ire for his more wild culinary creations, but what sets his cuisine apart from that of other junk food aficionados is his steadfast dedication to the key elements of any extreme item: size and odd combinations. Fieri’s “Guy's Cheesecake Challenge” is currently on the menu of his Vegas Kitchen and Bar, but it’s easy enough to replicate at home: Just halve a cheesecake, throw it on a plate, and douse liberally with hot fudge, pretzels, and potato chips. (What, no bacon?)

5. DENNY'S FRIED CHEESE MELT


Denny's

In August 2010, Denny’s introduced the Fried Cheese Melt, a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with fried mozzarella sticks. Yes, it was served with both French fries and a side of marinara sauce, because it’s important to eat vegetables with every meal.

6. DUNKIN' DONUTS'S GLAZED DONUT BREAKFAST SANDWICH


Dunkin' Donuts

If you’ve ever hit up your local Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and found yourself stumped when it came time to decide if you wanted a donut or a breakfast sandwich to get your morning motor revving, Dunkin' Donuts came up with a brilliant culinary brainstorm in 2013: the fast food favorite unveiled a breakfast sandwich that used glazed donuts as “bread,” wrapped around bacon and peppered egg.

7. JACK IN THE BOX MUNCHIE MEAL

What Jack’s Munchie Meals lack in creativity, they more than make up for in pure, unadulterated size and content. Each Munchie Meal—there are four total—features a massive sandwich (from the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger to the Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich, and all sorts of wild fried things in between) accompanied with two beef tacos, “Halfsies” (a combo of fries and curly fries), and a 20-ounce fountain drink. These intense snack boxes are still available at most Jack in the Box locations, but you’ll have to wait until after 9 p.m. to procure your very own.

8. PIZZA HUT CHEESY BITES REMIX PIZZA

Apparently, there’s nothing that Pizza Hut loves more than using its crust as a delivery system for other junk food items. The hut that pizza built may have crammed hot dogs and hamburgers on to their pie sides, but there was something special about the Cheesy Bites Remix pizza. It featured fried cheese pockets stuffed with three different varieties of extra junk, from spicy seasoning to cream cheese and sesame to mozzarella and parmesan.

9. DEEP FRIED BUTTER

County and state fairs have long been hotbeds (sizzling, oily hotbeds) of wild, deep-frying invention. Dunking things in batter and then tossing them into a vat of oil is a nifty way to turn almost anything into a delicious crisp pocket of junky decadence, perfect for utensil-free eating—but that doesn’t mean that everything needs to get the deep-fried treatment. While deep-fried Oreos may be a stroke of brilliance, deep fried butter is just plain madness. Here’s a quick test: If you wouldn’t eat something if it weren’t deep-fried, don’t eat it if it is deep-fried. When was the last time you ate an entire stick of butter? See? Point proven.

10. THE BACON BUN BURGER

Not content to have a bacon sandwich between two chicken filets? Is a grilled cheese bun replacement not for you? Then try making your very own hamburger buns out of bacon. Carbs are bad for you, right?

11. FRIED ICE CREAM SANDWICH

The Florida State Fair is the proud home of the first fried ice cream sandwich, a junky treat that bears a name that doesn’t even begin to explain what it holds between its buns. It’s not a fried ice cream sandwich so much as a bacon cheeseburger (technically a sandwich) topped with a ball of fried ice cream. It might be a good meal for multi-taskers—no need to worry about dessert—but it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing good for anything else.

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10 Things You Didn't Know About the Fourth of July
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With 242 years of tradition behind it, the Fourth of July is one of America’s most cherished holidays. It's when we celebrate our nation's mythology with a day off, a backyard barbecue, and plenty of fireworks. But with all that history, you'd be forgiven if you didn't know quite everything about July 4. So from the true story behind the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to some staggering hot dog statistics, here are 10 things you might not know about the Fourth of July.

1. THE DECLARATION WASN'T SIGNED ON JULY 4 (OR IN JULY AT ALL).

John Trumball's 1819 painting "Declaration of Independence."
John Trumball's 1819 painting "Declaration of Independence."
John Trumbull [Public domain] // Wikimedia Commons

It might make for an iconic painting, but that famous image of all the Founding Fathers and Continental Congress huddled together, presenting the first draft of the Declaration of Independence for July 4, 1776 signing, isn't quite how things really went down. As famed historian David McCullough wrote, "No such scene, with all the delegates present, ever occurred at Philadelphia."

It's now generally accepted that the Declaration of Independence wasn't signed on the Fourth of July—that's just the day the document was formally dated, finalized, and adopted by the Continental Congress, which had officially voted for independence on July 2 (the day John Adams thought we should celebrate). Early printed copies of the Declaration were signed by John Hancock and secretary Charles Thomson to be given to military officers and various political committees, but the bulk of the other 54 men signed an official engrossed (finalized and in larger print) copy on August 2, with others to follow at a later date. Hancock (boldly) signed his name again on the updated version.

So if you want to sound like a history buff at your family's barbecue this year, point out that we're celebrating the adoption of the Declaration, not the signing of it.

2. THE FIRST CELEBRATIONS WEREN'T MUCH DIFFERENT THAN TODAY'S.

After years of pent-up frustration, the colonies let loose upon hearing the words of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Military personnel and civilians in the Bowling Green section of Manhattan tore down a statue of King George III and later melted it into bullets; the King’s coat of arms was used as kindling for a bonfire in Philadelphia; and in Savannah, Georgia, the citizens burnt the King in effigy and held a mock funeral for their royal foe.

Independence Day celebrations began to look a bit more familiar the following year, as the July 18, 1777 issue of the Virginia Gazette describes the July 4 celebration in Philadelphia:

"The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal."

There were even ships decked out in patriotic colors lining harbors and streamers littering city streets. Once you get past the mock funerals and rioting of 1776, modern Independence Day celebrations have stuck pretty close to the traditions started in 1777.

3. EATING SALMON ON THE FOURTH IS A TRADITION IN NEW ENGLAND.

The tradition of eating salmon on the Fourth of July began in New England as kind of a coincidence. It just so happened that during the middle of the summer, salmon was in abundance in rivers throughout the region, so it was a common sight on tables at the time. It eventually got lumped in to the Fourth and has stayed that way ever since, even with the decline of Atlantic salmon.

To serve salmon the traditional New England way, you'll have to pair it with some green peas. And if you're really striving for 18th-century authenticity, enjoy the whole meal with some turtle soup, like John and Abigail Adams supposedly did on the first Fourth of July. (You can still be a patriot without the soup, though.)

4. MASSACHUSETTS WAS THE FIRST STATE TO RECOGNIZE THE HOLIDAY.

Massachusetts recognized the Fourth of July as an official holiday on July 3, 1781, making it the first state to do so. It wasn't until June 28, 1870 that Congress decided to start designating federal holidays [PDF], with the first four being New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This decreed that those days were holidays for federal employees.

However, there was a distinction. The Fourth was a holiday "within the District of Columbia" only. It would take years of new legislation to expand the holiday to all federal employees.

5. THE OLDEST ANNUAL FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION IS HELD IN BRISTOL, RHODE ISLAND.

Eighty-five years before the Fourth of July was even recognized as a federal holiday, one tradition began that continues to this day. Billed as "America's Oldest Fourth of July Celebration," the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, has been doing Independence Day right since 1785.

The festivities began just two years after the Revolutionary War ended, and 2017 will be its 232nd entry. Over the years the whole thing has expanded well beyond July 4; the town of 23,000 residents now begins to celebrate the United States on Flag Day, June 14, all the way through to the 2.5-mile July 4 parade. What began as a "patriotic exercise"—meaning church services—has morphed into a cavalcade of parades, live music, food, and other activities.

6. AND THE SHORTEST PARADE IS IN APTOS, CALIFORNIA.

From the oldest to the shortest, the Fourth of July parade in Aptos, California, is just a hair over half a mile long. Taking up two city blocks, and measuring just .6 miles, this brief bit of patriotism features antique cars, decorated trucks, and plenty of walkers. Afterward, there's a Party in the Park, where folks can enjoy live music, food, and games.

7. THERE ARE AROUND 15,000 INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS CELEBRATIONS EVERY YEAR.

Fireworks burst over New York City.
JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / Getty Images

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, around 15,000 fireworks displays will take place for the Fourth of July holiday (even if some aren't exactly on July 4). Though pricing varies, most small towns spend anywhere from $8000-$15,000 for a fireworks display, with larger cities going into the millions, like the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at around $2.5 million.

8. WE'LL EAT AN OBSCENE AMOUNT OF HOT DOGS.

Around 150 million, to be more specific—that's how many hot dogs will be consumed by Americans on the Fourth of July. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, that amount of dogs can stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times.

In 2016, 70 of those dogs were scarfed down by Joey Chestnut, who won the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition for the ninth time.

9. AND WE'LL SPEND BILLIONS ON FOOD.

Americans will spend big on food and drinks this Fourth. Big to the tune of around $7.1 billion when all is said and done, according to the National Retail Federation. This includes food and other cookout expenses, averaging out to about $73 per person participating in a barbecue, outdoor cookout or picnic.

Then comes the booze. The Beer Institute estimates that Americans will spend around $1 billion on beer for their Fourth celebrations, and more than $450 million on wine.

10. THREE PRESIDENTS HAVE DIED, AND ONE WAS BORN, ON THE FOURTH.

You probably know that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826—50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. They're not the only presidents to have died on the Fourth, though; James Monroe—the nation’s fifth president—died just a few years later on July 4, 1831.

Though the holiday might seem like it has it out for former presidents, there was one future leader born on Independence Day. The country's 30th Commander-in-Chief, Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4, 1872.

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