Some museums preserve our history and cultures. Other museums provide interesting entertainment at bargain prices. And still other museums merely give you somewhere to duck into when it suddenly starts raining and you have no umbrella. You can decide which categories these rather strange museums fall into.
Paperweights have one basic task — they hold stuff down. Glass is a bit more versatile, but really it’s best for just looking at. This makes glass and paperweights perfect candidates for a very engaging museum. Imagine the joy you could find in a day spent gazing at all kinds of glass and glassy stuff. That’s the theory behind the Degenhart Glass & Paperweight Museum. A museum dedicated to the “exhibition and history of glassware produced in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia.” Really, it sells itself.
Touted as one of the only, if not the only hair museum in the world, Leila’s hair museum is a treasure trove of jewelry and artwork woven from, you guessed it, human hair. This kind of gives us the willies, but apparently it was quite a common pastime at some point. According to the website the collection includes “pieces containing hair from Queen Victoria, four presidents and multiple celebrities ranging from Michael Jackson to Marilyn Monroe.”
3. Sock Museum (at the Portland Sock Summit)
Most of the time, museums are filled with interesting artifacts and items from history. Detritus from our shared history whose stories would otherwise be lost to the ages. Fascinating bits of past cultures that help put current culture into new light. Other times museums have socks. Not even really old socks, but modern reconstructions of old sock patterns. Get out your bucket list and add a trip to the Sock Museum, which is only on exhibition during the Portland Sock Summit. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the “real-live exhibit of historically important and accurate sock replicas from the oldest pattern we can find, right up to the current time.”
4. Spam Museum
Why wouldn’t there be an entire museum dedicated to the world’s most famous brand of can of meat? It’s easy, convenient, cost-effective and, dare we say, delicious. Maybe you don’t think it’s all those things, but it is a unique holdover from leaner times and it doesn’t cost a dime to visit the museum. You can learn about all the types of Spam, see old advertising campaigns and even try your hand at canning some Spam yourself.
This is a museum we could get into. Although, enjoying fresh Southern food and beverages has to be way better than looking at models of Southern food and beverages. And really we’d rather be eating fried okra and sweet potato pie than read descriptions of how certain Southern cuisines came to be. Still, there is an extensive collection of miniature liquor bottles and the Museum of the American Cocktail is right inside. A guaranteed down-home good time. Just don’t go hungry.
As you can see, there are plenty of museums focused on food, but only a small few focused on used food. However, in the lovely vacation beach village of Kingsand in the UK, there is a small mom and pop café where celebrities sometimes dine on delicious homemade foods. And sometimes these celebrities leave some behind, which the café owners have cleverly kept as mementos that they are willing to sell for charity. If you’re ever in Kingsand, head out to The Old Boatstore and take a gander at the Museum of Celebrity Leftovers, which is mostly a mounted display box, and see if you recognize anyone’s chew marks.
If you visit any ancient locale with a long history of human inhabitants, you’ll likely find a throne or two in a museum. But how many places could you go to and find a museum dedicated to one very special kind of throne? Probably just this one in New Delhi, India. Take care of your business first, but then pay a visit to the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. There you can witness the evolution of toilets and their various designs from around the world. Truly, if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s this basic need. And so, enter the toilet museum.
In the world of biology, it is the parasites who use other creatures for their own benefit. But now the tables have turned (the ones that don’t have termites anyway), and it is we who can use the parasites for our own pleasure. Japan’s Meguro Parasitilogical Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to parasites. There you can, according to their website, “try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, and take the time to learn about the wonderful world of the parasites.” You can also view the parasite life cycle with more than 300 specimens. And, you can buy parasite souvenirs or actual specimens, although those are only sold for educational purposes.
This museum is delightfully weird. Nowhere else will you find such an extensive collection of random body parts, medical anomalies and abnormalities, or the well-preserved portions of the bodies of dead people. The Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia aims for further advances in the practice of medicine by displaying a “unique collection of 19th century medical and anatomical specimans.” Its newest and most notable exhibit just happens to be Albert Einstein’s brain. Seriously, if you’re in the area, make it a point to visit.
Never before have you had a reason to go to Iceland. It seems cold and desolate, but you could warm right up in the Phallus Museum. This museum, yet another original in the world of museums, contains “a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammal found in a single country.” (Insert “size doesn’t matter” joke here.) As far as we can tell, this is your one and only opportunity to gaze upon more than 280 penises and penile parts from 92 different species, including Homo Sapiens. Don’t ask, just go.