Knowledge is a funny thing. It can help you get a job, meet new people or finish a task – but it can also help you scare away unwanted suitors by arming you with a wealth of disconcerting trivia about such topics as parasites, torture devices or the history of toiletry. Where to get this knowledge, you might ask? These ten wacky museums are a great place to start.
From chamber pots to urinals, exquisitely decorated Victorian toilet bowls to microwave toilets (don’t ask), the world’s finest array of waste disposal systems is on display here in the International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi. The museum, whose lofty goal is to help sanitation experts solve waste management problems, might just make you appreciate your standard issue porcelain pot – so what if there’s no gilt – at least you don’t have to empty it yourself.
Sulabh Bhawan, Mahavir Enclave, Palam Dabri Road
New Delhi, India
Leila’s Hair Museum
They say that fashion recycles itself, which is why we’re predicting that hair jewelry is poised to make a comeback. In the Victorian Era, art and jewelry made from human hair was not only common, but also a popular way to commemorate a loved one. At Leila’s Hair Museum, you can explore over 150 wreaths and 2,000 hair-made pieces of jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces, brooches and hat pins, some dating back to 1680.
1333 South Noland Road
Independence, MO, USA
It might not be the biggest museum on the block, but we all know that size doesn’t matter… when you’ve got the largest collection of penises, penile parts and penile-inspired art in the world. At the Phallological Museum in Iceland’s capital city, you’ll find more than 280 specimens from 93 different animal species as well as about 300 curiosities and tools related to the museum’s theme. Don’t miss the massive, 6-foot whale penis (though how can you?) – it certainly puts the human specimens to shame.
MOBAYou’ve heard of the MoMA, right? Well, how about the MoBA in Boston, Massachusetts? Like its unofficial sister museum, the MoBA is dedicated to collecting the finest art in its class. Just that in this case, that class is bad art. The museum calls its art “too bad to be ignored,” a statement worthy of any of the museum’s rotating exhibits.
The basement of the Somerville Theatre
55 Davis Square
The Museum of Broken Relationships, which started as a traveling exhibition, is based on the idea of failed relationships. What sets it apart is its interactive quality – everyday individuals donate ordinary objects representative of their broken relationship along with a story, from a glass horse souvenir to an unexplained pair of fuzzy pink handcuffs. These exhibits offer the chance for individuals to publicly recognize their hurt and overcome emotional collapse by donating to the museum’s collection.
Ćirilometodska 2, 10000
A rose is a rose is a rose, but beauty? That’s culturally defined. The Museum of Enduring Beauty in Malacca exhibits tools and clothing – much of it quite grotesque – utilized by various cultures in their pursuit of the ideal. From shoe binding and neck-elongation to tattooing, piercing and head-molding, these often extreme methods might seem horrific – but who’s to say that plastic surgery might not make a good addition to the next exhibit?
The People’s Museum, Kota Road
You can’t take a trip to Berlin without having a nibble on the city’s favorite snack, the currywurst. Germans consume over 800 million of these hot pork sausages drenched in curried ketchup per year, which certainly seems like enough to warrant a museum. At the Currywurst Museum, you can learn about the snack’s history, listen to the sound of a currywurst cooking and even partake in a photo shoot as the owner of your very own curry cart. And of course, you’ll have to try a currywurst before you go.
Part legend, part mystery meat, all acronym, SPAM is one of a kind. Become a “Spambassador” at the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota and learn about SPAM’s history (including its integral role in feeding the soldiers of WWII) and trivia, participate in a game show quiz and stop by the gift shop to stock up on enough SPAM to last you through the Apocalypse.
1101 North Main St.
Austin, MN, USA
Though some might call eating SPAM a form of torture, the delectable canned meat is nothing next to this delightful array of Medieval torture instruments. After examining over 100 horrific torture devices (plus helpful tutorial) in Prague’s Museum of Medieval Torture, you can be grateful we’re not still living in the Middle Ages. The tour includes classics like the Iron Maiden as well as exhibits on famous personages like Vlad the Impaler, who served as the inspiration for the Dracula myth.
Damrak 33 1012 LK
If you’re not sick to your stomach yet, you will be after visiting the Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo. This museum is dedicated to the humble, yet insidious parasite, all the way from tapeworms to head lice. Not only does the museum feature over 300 specimens of these delightful creatures as well as photographs of their handiwork, but also a 6,000+ library of parasitology books for the more erudite visitors.