In honor of International Museum Day, a look at the wackiest exhibitions across the globe, featuring everything from toilets to instant noodles
If the word “museum” conjures up images of stuffy corridors full of highfalutin culture, you’ll be happy to learn that plenty of the world’s museums are, in fact, wonderfully weird tributes to highly specific topics and bizarre artifacts.
So, to celebrate International Museum Day, we present 10 museums around the world that are anything but mundane.
1. Icelandic Phallological Museum
If the name didn’t tip you off, this museum is dedicated to all things penile. According to its website, it houses more than 215 penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals found in Iceland. Be sure not to miss the special section dedicated to whale penises.
2. The Museum of Bad Art
Brookline and Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
Known as MOBA for short, this museum touts itself as “the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.” Why waste your time at art museums showcasing quality art, that will only makes you feel untalented? As you stroll through MOBA, you’ll grow more and more confident about your own artistic abilities. All the pieces “range from the work of talented artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush.”
3. Sulabh International Museum Of Toilets
New Delhi, India
Ever wanted to learn about the entire evolution of toilets throughout human history? Then get yourself to India to visit this museum, which traces the history of the toilet for the past 4,500 years. From simple chamber pots to elaborate decorated Victorian toilet seats, you’ll see it all. There’s even a toilet disguised as a bookcase.
4. Avanos Hair Museum
Want a creepier option than toilets, penises and bad art? Look no further than this hair museum created by potter Chez Galip, in the rural Turkish town of Avanos. It features a huge collection of hair gathered from more than 16,000 women, and if that doesn’t sound creepy enough for you: it’s situated in a small, dark cave.
5. The Museum of Broken Relationships
This museum evolved “from a traveling exhibition revolving around the concept of failed relationships and their ruins,” its website explains. Visitors are encouraged to donate artifacts from their own broken relationships as “a chance to overcome an emotional collapse.” You’ll see obvious artifacts — rings, clothing, Valentine’s Day gifts — but you’ll also spot some stranger remnants like fuzzy pink handcuffs or a wooden watermelon.
6. Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
Millions of college students have Momofuku Ando, creator of Cup Noodles, to thank for the cheap meal that kept them alive for four years. The museum, dedicated to Ando and his culinary creation, even includes an instant ramen workshop where visitors can make their own “fresh” noodles.
7. International Cryptozoology Museum
Portland, Maine, USA
Cryptozoology is literally “the study of hidden animals” and involves the search for animals whose existence has not been verified, like the Yeti or Bigfoot. This museum’s collection includes specimens and artifacts purportedly related to these types of mythical, unverified creatures. It includes everything from hair samples, fecal matter and native art — and it just might turn you into a Bigfoot believer.
8. Meguro Parasitological Museum
Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about tapeworms, head lice and plenty of other parasites you’ve probably never heard of. The collection boasts 300 specimens, including a 29-foot tapeworm. Not recommended for anyone with a weak stomach.
9. Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments
If you can forgive them for using Comic Sans on their website, check out this museum for its diverse collection of more than 100 torture devices. Some you’ll look at and say, “Okay, yeah, I see how that would work.” Others will have you scratching your head wondering how the heck they were used and just how brutal the resulting torture was. Fun for the whole family!
10. The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum
La Crosse, Kansas, USA
Yes, there’s really an entire museum dedicated to barbed wire. It features more than 2,400 varieties and explores the role barbed wire played in the settlement of the United States. We’ll go ahead and recommend not touching any of the displays.