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Move aside classic paintings and ancient sculptures. This selection of weird and wonderful museums showcases the stranger side of life. No matter how odd the object, there’s likely to be a museum somewhere in the world dedicated to it. Whether you want to learn more about Spam, spies, dog collars, death, barbed wire, or lawnmowers, there’s an extraordinary exhibit dedicated entirely to that. Here’s a guide to some of the kookiest collections on the planet.
Dedicated entirely to something most of us would rather forget, Poopoo Land is a bright and bouncy exhibit that brings the digestive tract to life. Inside this family-friendly museum, you’ll find the Dynamic Digestion Maze, which is an inflatable intestine obstacle course, and the Poo Party Zone, where you can listen to tunes from a poo jukebox. Picture poo-fect photo opportunities include 3D optical illusions that make you appear to be riding on a magic poo carpet.
Another museum focusing on a less appealing part of life, Zagreb’s Museum of Hangovers details what it feels like when you drink too much alcohol. You’ll find amusing stories of drunken misdemeanors and simulators that replicate the feeling of being drunk, including the uneven path throughout the museum that is meant to make you feel like you’ve had one too many. When you’re done, the Croatian capital’s famous Museum of Broken Relationships is a good place to end up.
Packed to the rafters with ghosts and creepy curios from around the world, Penang’s Ghost Museum is a weird but well-meaning museum meant to amuse the living. Inside this sinister shrine to the supernatural, you can wander through different sets that feature costumes and props you can use for spine-tingling or silly snaps with the whole family. The Ghost Museum is just one of several novelty museums in Malaysia’s food capital. Other top picks include The Owl and Camera Museum and the Wonderfood Museum, which features larger-than-life Asian dishes.
Tucked away on a backstreet in Hackney, Viktor Wynd’s Museum of Curiosities exhibits a fascinating collection of oddities including an 8-legged lamb, items used in traditional magic rituals, the alleged skeleton of a mermaid, and the supposed leg bone of an Irish giant. More than just a museum, Viktor Wynd’s also has an Absinthe Parlour where you can drink cocktails garnished with scorpions and attend talks ranging from Norwegian fairytales to New Orleans voodoo.
Submerged in the warm waters off Cancun’s Caribbean coast, the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art was the creative brainchild of British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. Not only does the museum have artistic significance, but it also serves as a haven for local marine life by helping to conserve the coral reef. Get up close to the sculptures on a scuba diving tour or admire the exhibits from closer to the surface on a snorkeling experience.
Boasting hundreds of phallic specimens, the Icelandic Phallological Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world. The museum hosts almost 300 penile specimens, including a real human penis and a phallus from a blue whale. There is even a folklore section that explores the role of the penis in mythology. If you’ve worked up an appetite wandering around the museum, the on-site café serves coffee and penis-shaped waffles. Yum.
Situated in a prime position within New Orleans’ French Quarter, the Museum of Death takes you on a journey through all things morbid. The museum isn’t for the faint of heart, though. Graphic photographs sit alongside exhibits that delve deeper into the horrific history of body bags, morticians, and cannibalism. If you want to continue exploring the underworld, combine your visit to the museum with a cemetery and ghost tour of the notoriously spooky southern city.
Boasting some of the largest parasites in the world—including a record-breaking tapeworm—Tokyo’s Parasitological Museum is a scientific research facility that displays a diverse range of human and animal parasites. While learning about the science of parasites and seeing actual specimens suspended in liquid is surely fascinating, you won’t want to miss the unique, on-site gift shop that sells one-of-a-kind parasite-themed t-shirts, stationery, and keychains. A great Japanese souvenir for friends and family, if ever we've seen one.