by D.J. Wilson – At our local art museum, I observed a youngster stomping her feet in protest as she wanted to go home. Her well-intentioned parents calmly explained the exhibit was a life enriching experience. The child had my sympathy as the museum held works of little interest for a child. While most are educational and enlightening, some are dull and frankly make adults wish they’d stayed home. I’ve grown older numerically; though my desire to experience new and exciting things hasn’t aged. For those who yearn for excitement, here are some interesting and strange museums destined to spark our imagination or at least make us laugh.
- Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum – Located in New York City in Times Square, this cool museum features three dimensional life-like wax figures of celebrities. See famous wax stars from entertainment, music, sports, politics and history. Take a peek behind the scenes to learn how wax figures are made to look so real and learn the story of Madame Tussaud. There’s a theatre which delivers shows featuring 3D technology with 4D effects including wind, mist and scents. www.madametussauds.com
- International Spy Museum – Interested in the world of espionage? This one’s for you. Its mission is to educate the public in an interactive manner with focus on human intelligence and spy technology. There are exhibits where guests adopt a cover identity, memorize details, and learn to keep cover. Offering live action covert spy adventure, this museum is full of secret espionage artifacts. Located in Washington, D.C., it is worth the adventure. www.spymuseum.org
- The Trash Museum – Located in Hartford Connecticut, many find it’s an interesting attraction. This recycling center owned and operated by the CRRA (Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority) features educational exhibits about the history and methods of trash disposal. The programs emphasize the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, recovering and rethinking in order to preserve our environment. www.crra.org/pages/edu_museums.htm
- The Mütter Museum – This landmark Philadelphia museum is designed to educate the general public about medicine as an art and science. It will enhance ones appreciation for the heritage and development of medical advancement and contains a collection of oddities and antique medicinal equipment. The Museum is part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and is not for the faint of heart. It is best known for the Hyrtl Skull collection and specimens such as a piece of tissue removed from the thorax of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and parts of Einstein’s brain. www.collphyphil.org/site/mutter_museum.html
- The UFO Museum – Opened to visitors in 1992, this museum welcomes believers and non believers of UFO’s. Located in Roswell, NM, the site of the crash of an alleged flying saucer, the goal is to provide the public with information on the subject of UFO phenomena. Exhibits include facts on Roswell, crop circles, UFO sightings, and Area 51. The museum’s objective is not to convince anyone to believe in aliens, but to present information gathered by scientists and to encourage visitors to ask questions. It’s a great place for curious minds. www.roswellufomuseum.com
- Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia – This mini-size museum, located in a small town in California, brings back childhood memories for many who love and enjoy Pez candy. Visit this storefront museum with two rooms open to the public and featuring the World’s Largest Pez Dispenser. See rare candy dispensers and take a short private tour to learn Pez trivia. It’s a nostalgic trip down Pez Candy Lane for those who love this classic confection. www.burlingamepezmuseum.com
- The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) – Ouch! This is honestly dedicated to the collection, preservation and celebration of bad art in all its forms. It was first housed in the basement of a private home in Boston, Massachusetts. Now with two permanent galleries, one located outside the men’s room in a 1927 movie theatre in Dedham Square, and the second in the basement of The Somerville Theatre in Davis Square. I must confess some of the extra terrestrial looking portraits made me laugh. It is a community based privately run institution with free admission boasting odd museum hours as the gallery is open whenever movies are showing. www.museumofbadart.org
- Roadside America – Described as “An unforgettable panorama of life in the United States from early pioneer days to the mid-20th Century”, Roadside America is considered one of the most unique attractions in the United States. It’s genuinely one of the world’s greatest indoor miniature villages that features an 8,000 square foot landscaped display with miniature structures, trains, trees, miniature people, rivers, streams and interactive animations that can be activated by visitors to this Shartlesville, Pennsylvania location. www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2208
- Sulabh International Toilet Museum – This rates high amongst weird museums in my book. While I have no strong desire to go there (no pun intended) others may find it amusing. Located in New Delhi, India, this museum is dedicated scientifically and historically to the preservation and evolution of the toilet and all its glorious designs. Set up by a non-profit voluntary organization in the field of sanitation in India, this rare museum displays toilets of various worldwide designs. www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org
- The SPAM Museum – Located in Austin, Minnesota, this museum is dedicated to the “delicious meat” first created by Hormel Foods in 1937. Designed for all ages, the museum is full of information on SPAM artifacts, history and fun. There’s even a World War II exhibit and a game show quiz and, best of all, admission is free. www.spam.com/games/museum/
- The National Farm Toy Museums – This fascinating museum pays tribute to agricultural history. Farm loving enthusiasts will love the thousand of toys and exhibits displayed throughout its two story exhibition space. Located in Dyersville, Iowa, this museum combines history, technology, and art and features a life size John Deere soil-sifter and miniature farm replicas to express the growth of farming in America. While you’re in town, check out the “Field of Dreams” where the movie that inspired millions and won “Best Picture of the Year” was filmed. www.nationalfarmtoymuseum.com
- The Barnum Museum – Located in Bridgeport, Connecticut and opened in 1893, the Barnum Museum strives to preserve Bridgeport’s industrial and social history. The first floor hosts an exhibit of P.T. Barnum’s multifaceted life and career through numerous artifacts and personal items, souvenirs from his humble beginnings to his creation of “The Greatest Show on Earth.” www.barnum-museum.org
Museums offer artistic, historical or scientific experiences of great significance. However, there are many that stretch beyond the norms of our imagination. The aforementioned museums offer opportunities to explore and experience new adventures. On the off chance you’re wandering in a yawn-worthy museum, kick things up a notch by checking out “off the beaten path” museums. They are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
Do you have any “unique” museum experiences? Please share you stories with us!