Fantastically Strange Museums To Visit On Your Summer Vacation
So you’ve gone to the Smithsonian and the whole family was impressed by the dinosaur bones at the American Museum Of Natural History in New York City. Maybe this year it’s time to change things up a bit, maybe it’s time to step outside of the obvious and into the extraordinary. How about a UFO Museum? Or what about an afternoon spent wandering through the International Spy Museum?
National Mustard Museum, Middleton, Wisconsin
When Wisconsin lawyer Barry Levenson, owner, and CMO—”chief mustard officer”—of the National Mustard Museum, mourned over the defeat of his beloved Boston Red Socks in the 1986 World Series, he decided he needed a welcomed distraction. And 5,000 different mustards and three decades later, Levenson’s “distraction” is a mustard-filled museum, free to the general public. All Levenson asks is that visitors who are able make a small donation or perhaps take home a bottle or two of his favorite condiment from the museum gift shop. That is, after all, the only way to “keep the mustard at the museum flowing.”
International UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico has a long, supernatural history of unexplained sightings and strange occurrences, so a UFO Museum there, according to the founders, just made sense. Visitors can expect to see serious exhibits that, according to the Museum’s website, “maintain its position on the serious side of the UFO phenomena.” Individuals who seek more information on UFOs and sightings can also access the museum’s extensive collection for research. But most people who visit the museum, which has moved twice to bigger spaces since its inception, come because they are curious.
The Trash Museum, Hartford, Connecticut
The CRRA Trash Museum in Hartford, Connecticut is, quite literally, 6,500 square feet filled to the brim, with garbage. Visitors can begin their exploration at the intriguing Temple Of Trash, and then work their way through the dozens of exhibits, all of which focus on trash collecting—or the more delicate and carefully coined name of “materials management.” The site also allows curious onlookers to watch the inner workings of a real recycling center, which is located on the premises. How could anyone refuse a visit to a museum of such fantastically filthy proportions?
International Spy Museum In Washington, D.C.
All 68,000 square-feet museum of the International Spy Museum, located in the heart of Washington D.C., is dedicated to the nuts and bolts of espionage—and it won’t take visitors very long to “spy” something interesting among the many exhibits. Some of the must-sees at the museum include an interactive, live action spy adventure, and an exhibit that breaks down the “Exquisitely Evil” espionage tactics of over 50 years of villains from the James Bond movies. Above all, the museum is home to hundreds of different cool spy gadgetry, amazing booby trap devices, and never-before seen covert weapons.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is home to shelves upon shelves of historical perfumes and cosmetics, Voodoo Potions, bottles of medicine, surgical instruments, and more. Hidden in the heart of the French Quarter, at the corner of St. Louis and Toulouse Streets, the Pharmacy Museum seems like just another aging historic storefront at first glance. But one step inside and the visitor is transported back in time, to an 19th century compounding shop. After an afternoon at the Pharmacy Museum, the terrifying and questionable “medical practices” of the olden days, will begin to seem much more like torture.
Old Monroe Courthouse Museum, Monroeville, Alabama
Fans of Harper Lee’s beloved novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” will stand in awe when they step into the Old Monroe Courthouse Museum located in Monroeville, Alabama. The courthouse-turned-museum houses the exact courtroom that is featured in the 1962 film version of the book, which starred Gregory Peck. Filmed in 1962; Hollywood directors recreated the courtroom on a stage in California, down to the very last detail. The museum also contains relics from another famous Southern author and dear friend of Harper Lee, the legendary Truman Capote. Housed at the Old Monroe Courthouse are artifacts from Capote’s childhood and life, including a large collection of never before seen family photographs.
The Vacuum Cleaner Museum, St. James, Missouri
A trip to the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Missouri is a veritable journey into home-making history—and a unique one at that. There can be no place else in the U.S. where over 600 vacuums, spanning over 100 years, are housed together under one roof. A truly unique experience, the museum even features a displayed collection of “celebrity vacuums!”
The Silver Ball Museum, Asbury Park, New Jersey
The Silver Ball Museum in Asbury Park, New Jersey claims to be “The Pinball Capital of the World,” and visitors on TripAdvisor seem to agree. The museum is home to dozens and dozens of vintage Pinball machines, some dating back as far as the early 1950s. The sights and sounds of The Silver Ball are intoxicating and overwhelming; the same visitors often return to the museum over and over, to experience something that they may have missed the last time. And the exhibits at this museum are more than just something to see—patrons can play all the pinball games too!
The National Museum of Funeral History, Houston, Texas
Have you ever wondered about the history of the funeral services industry? No? Well you might be surprised—and concerned over—just how enjoyable a trip to The National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, Texas can be. The museum houses exhibits that showcase everything from the funeral experiences for former U.S. Presidents to the detailed history of embalming. Visitors can also view the museum’s collection of rare historical hearses, including horse-drawn funeral carriages from the early 19th century. Everyday is a good day to visit The Funeral History Museum, because according to their website, “Any day above ground is a good one.”
Museum Of Bad Art, Somerville, Massachusetts
There are many well-known art museums throughout the world, where visitors can go to see beautiful masterpieces. But there’s only one Museum Of Bad Art—and it’s located in Somerville, Massachusetts. The MOBA, as it’s known colloquially, is home to some truly horrible artistic works. From landscapes to portraits to the more scandalously categorized “noods,” there’s something for everyone to hate at the Museum Of Bad Art.