The world is full of esteemed, high-brow museums, packed with masterpieces and wonders. Are we ungrateful then, for suffering from museum fatigue? At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, it can be hard to conjure up excitement about the millionth 15th century statue you’ve seen (boy were they prolific back then) or fawn over the million dollar painting that your two year old sister could do with some schooling.
Sometimes you just want something a little different, but be careful what you wish for. If museums are a reflection of a nation, providing unique insights into human nature and history, frankly we’re all doomed. Here’s our pick of the world’s most bizarre museums.
Leprechaun Museum, Ireland
For years, Dubliners struggled to extinguish the Irish stereotype of blarney, crocks of gold and winsome cailins and change its image to a cosmopolitan European city to rival London and Berlin. Why bother when you can open a canard of a museum dedicated entirely to leprechauns? Bizarrely, there isn’t a single leprechaun to be seen, but there is a wealth of history, crepe paper rainbows and giant furniture. Leave your incredulity at the door, and also forget the inconvenient truth that leprechauns only played a bit role in Irish mythology until Disney propelled them to stardom.
Forensic Museum, Bangkok
Fittingly housed in Siriraj Hospital, the Forensic Museum is an amalgamation of six museums of grisly forensic finds. The main attraction- read most horrific- is the paraffin-preserved body of Si Ouey Sae Ueng, a cannibal serial killer who preyed on children in the 1950s. Other “highlights” are the formaldehyde pickled head of a gun-shot victim and preserved fetuses. The signs are mainly in Thai, but if you don’t know what you’re looking at then you probably don’t want to. Those who dallied with the idea of entering medicine will breathe a sigh of relief, while the rest will be too busy breathing deeply to fight the nausea. Not for the fainthearted.
Hair Museum, Turkey
Avanos was a town that used to be renowned for its pottery, until Chez Galip began collecting hair from willing women in the 1950s. Lock by lock, he assiduously built up the collection and today, 16000 hair specimens cover his underground cave from floor to ceiling. This is creepy in an almost inexplicable way. If the sight of hair on somebody’s collar annoys you, or a bath plugged with twisted hair makes you squeamish, the Hair Museum is best avoided. It’s worth nothing that the museum has a place in the Guinness Book of Records, although it is reasonable to assume that the competition isn’t very stiff.
Mustard Museum, Wisconsin
Slathered on everything from hotdogs to cheese to your t-shirt, mustard has a a surprisingly illustrious history beyond its use as a condiment. Pythagoras touted it as a cure for scorpion bites in the 6th century, its mentioned in two Shakespeare plays and Colonel Mustard is one of Clue’s usual suspects. Mustard’s role in history is presented in eye-watering detail at the Mustard Museum, founded by Wisconsin’s former Assistant Attorney General, Barry Levenson. Mustard fiends will salivate over The Great Wall of Mustard, comprising over 5300 mustard jars from over 60 countries.
Vent Haven Museum, Fort Mitchell
The fear of ventriloquist’s dummies is classed as irrational by silly scientists, but don’t believe this for a second. Ventriloquist’s dummies are out to kill us, a truth confirmed by Chucky in the Child’s Play series of movies. Luckily, the world’s largest collection of ventriloquist’s dummies is housed in Fort Mitchell’s Vent Haven museum, so unless you live in Kentucky, you can relax. William Shakespeare Berger started the collection, which is now a frightful 750 strong. Up to 1200 brave souls visit each year, presumably to check the security facilities, while ventriloquism aficionados descend every year for a convention. 2012’s is in July- You have been warned.
Laura Mundow is a freelance writer and editor based in Dublin, Ireland. Her interests include literature, movies, music, horses and traveling. She regularly writes for Pimsleur Approach, sellers of almost 30 audio based language learning courses including how to learn Brazilian Portuguese.