What turns an ordinary object into something extraordinary? Put it in a museum. No matter how seemingly odd or mundane, objects offer us windows into history and connect us to our past. They expose our darkest preoccupations, most brilliant ideas, and the limitless creativity of the human mind. Let’s look into 10 weirdest museums around the world that you would love to visit one day or maybe not!
1) Beijing Tap Water Museum, China
This former pipe-house in the center of Beijing has been converted into a museum dedicated to the ins and outs of tap water, including 130 “real objects,” models and artifacts such as vintage water coupons dating to the first tap water company in the capital, the Jingshi Tap Water Company.
But don’t be tempted to quench your thirst after all this tap water reading. Beijing residents have long known that the water coming out of their taps is hardly safe to drink.
2) Museum of Bad Art, United States
Most of the displays at the Museum of Bad Art wouldn’t make it to your mother’s fridge, let alone the Louvre. But here more than 600 pieces, which in other places might inspire polite nods and insincere compliments, have a place to shine. Located “conveniently beside the toilets” in an old basement in Dedham, Massachusetts, the museum accepts only art too bad to ignore. Row after row of misshapen flowers and brightly colored portraits reaffirm that, yes, your five-year-old could probably do that.
3) The Dog Collar Museum, England
Medieval puppies would be rolling in their graves if they witnessed the stylish vests doggies are donning today. Nearly half a million pet lovers rejoice every year in this one-of-a-kind display of dog paraphernalia, surprisingly the only one of its kind found in Great Britain.
Dogs have always been a presence at the manor at Leeds Castle gracing the side of Lady Baillie, the last owner of the estate, whose love of dogs inspired the creation of the museum. The display of puppy attire with more than 100 unique items dates back centuries, documenting the history of canine accessories from medieval times.
4) British Lawnmower Museum, England
What some might consider an icon of the worst aspect of suburbia is cherished at the British Lawnmower Museum, which details the history of the push-powered garden tool.
Want to see the first solar-powered robot grass-chopper, or the original mower itself, transformed from a contraption used to hem guards’ uniforms? This museum is for you.
From royal lawnmowers belonging to Prince Charles and Princess Diana, to the world’s most expensive lawnmowers, this place allows everyone to at least talk up appearances even if you can’t keep them.
5) Avanos Hair Museum, Turkey
Explore the world’s largest collection of hair gathered from more than 16,000 women. Avanos, a tiny town in central Turkey, has been famous since antiquity for its remarkable earthenware pottery. In recent years, however, the town has gained fame for a more unusual sight: the caves of the bizarre Hair Museum, created by potter Chez Galip. The walls under his studio are covered with the world’s largest collection of hair sourced from more than 16,000 women, along with their names and addresses. Locks of every length and color transform everything but the floor in a kind of hairy haven.
6) Iceland Phallological Museum, Iceland
The Iceland Phallological Museum is the premier institution to learn about the male sex organ, described on its website as “probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens.”
There’s no pornography, but you can admire 276 penises, from the tiniest hamster member (two millimeters) to the colossal private parts of a sperm whale (1.7 meters). The museum received its first human exhibit from a 95-year-old Icelandic man in 2011.
7) The Bread Museum, Germany
While the Museum of Bread Culture may not be as popular as its sliced namesake, it’s certainly an interesting examination of the ends of every sandwich. More than 18,000 exhibits depict everything from the 6,000-year history of bread in works of art (artists include luminaries Salvador Dali, Many Ray and Pablo Picasso) to ancient artifacts of bakeries dating from the Stone Age. Make sure to pack a lunch, though; despite being devoted to the food of life, you won’t find one edible loaf within the museum.
8) Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame, United States
Frederick’s of Hollywood, the store that brought unmentionables such as push-up bras and thong panties to the world, has in its hot-pink art deco flagship display a snapshot of Tinseltown literally under wraps.
While the ground floor is devoted to retail, upstairs is a who’s who of Hollywood undergarments, from Tom Hanks’ boxer shorts in “Forrest Gump” to the undies of the entire cast of “Beverly Hills 90210.”
There’s even women’s undies worn by men in drag, such as the dress worn by Milton Berle on his television show, and the training bra used by Phyllis Diller (marked “this side up”).
9) Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, United States
Andrea Ludden’s obsession is with salt and pepper shakers. A trained anthropologist, she’s writing a definitive study of the condiment dispensers, and displays her collection of more than 22,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers in a building specially arranged for their purpose.
The museum recalls small town Americana, with miniature McDonald’s menu items, skeletons, penguins, space aliens and endless variations on nearly every type of vegetable. You can even pick up your own pair at the gift shop, where many duplicates are for sale, allowing you to start your own collection.
10) The Kunstkamera, Russia
The Kunstkamera, Russia’s first museum. might seem an odd selection for a “weird museum,” but even a casual glance at Peter the Great’s cabinet of curiosities reveals some bizarre items. The massive collection of more than 200,000 natural and human oddities was originally assembled to dispel the Russian people’s belief in monsters, though it’s difficult to see how the strange exhibits might have accomplished that. The czar put together a ghastly personal collection of curiosities including deformed fetuses, creatures with extra heads or limbs, even a decapitated human head preserved in vinegar. The building is now home to the modern Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, with many remnants of Czar Peter’s collection of medical freaks hidden behind mannequins of local tribes and rather uninteresting presentations.