10 Quirky Museums Around the World
Museums are a great way to beat the summer heat and escape into a world of air-conditioned wonders. But experienced travelers can sometimes get the “been there, done that” effect—after all, you can only see the Mona Lisa so many times before you start to wonder what else is out there. For those who have covered the list of guide book-recommended museums and monuments of your destination, hone your museum-going experience this summer to explore some of these weird and quirky hidden gems. Whether you’re a budding apiarist, a dog lover, a die-hard Trekkie, or simply wondering what happens when you flush your toilet, there’s something out there for every curious mind!
Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi, India
Why and how do toilets vary around the world? Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak offers some answers to this somewhat taboo topic at the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi. Exhibits trace the evolution of the loo and the essential role it has played in the hygiene history.
The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka, Japan
A staple of broke college students worldwide, instant noodles have a surprisingly diverse backstory. Here at the Instant Ramen Museum, you can take part in an interactive workshop where you’ll learn how to stretch, steam, and fry the noodles or create your own flavor concoction.
The International Mustard Museum, Middleton, WI
There really is a museum for everything. Love that tangy zing of mustard on your sandwich? Head to Middleton, Wisconsin to celebrate America’s favorite condiment. There’s an exhibit on international mustard traditions, a tasting bar with free samples, and a large gift shop. And if you’re lucky enough to be in the area in early August, you can join mustard lovers to help celebrate National Mustard day!
Vulcan Tourism & Trek Station, Vulcan, Alberta, Canada
Vulcan, Alberta has embraced its Star Trek connection by building a spaceship-shaped museum dedicated to the show. Check out fascinating show memorabilia, learn a bit of Vulcan or Klingon, and spend a moment sitting in Captain Kirk’s chair.
Sewer Museum, Paris, France
You’ve come to love the streets of Paris, now find out what lies beneath. Paris developed its first sewage system more than 600 years ago. Learn about the history of the sewers and how it transformed the city, and explore a portion of the tunnels that are in use today. Inquisitive kids will love it—but be prepared to hold your nose!
Hall of Flame, Phoenix, Arizona
The Hall of Flame pays homage to the history of firefighting. Kids and adults alike will marvel at the vintage fire trucks and a gallery of photographs dedicated to wilderness firefighting. Pay your respects to fallen firefighters at the National Hall of Heroes.
Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum, Kent, England
Is your pooch a beloved member of your family? You might be surprised to learn that dogs enjoyed the same status even during medieval times. At Leeds castle, where six former queens lived, dogs are part of history. The castle’s houses a collection of canine paraphernalia, dedicated to the 500-year history of hunting and gun dogs, guard dogs and pet dogs that lived there.
Museum of Bad Art, Boston, Massachusetts
If you’ve visited the Louvre, the Met, and the Tate, you may have wondered, “what makes art, art?” The proprietors of the Museum of Bad Art have answered this question in their own way by assembling a collection of 500 pieces of “painfully hideous” art at three Boston locations. Categories include “Unlikely Landscapes,” “Unseen Force,” and “Blue People.”
Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica, Slovenia
The ancient art and science of beekeeping is the subject of this charming museum in a 14th century manor house in Radofljica. On display are exhibits depicting the importance of this industry to Slovenia’s folk history, as well as a collection of unique bee- and honey-themed art.
International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C.
The world of espionage has been an intriguing mystery for generations. At the International Spy Museum, you can experience a taste of spycraft for yourself! The museum features interactive exhibits covering the covert role of espionage throughout American history. The true highlight of this museum is the Spy School, where you can learn about disguise, surveillance, and gadgets, then try it out yourself in a roleplaying experience.