Dinosaur bones, really old rocks — it’s so overdone. When weighing your options for the family vacation this year how about a different kind of museum? Check these out.
Barber Jon’s Curiosity Museum: El Dorado Hills, CA
What: Housed in back of a barber shop, Barber Jon’s collection of aboriginal shrunken heads, an authentic jackalope and the remains of a Fiji Mermaid are truly strange. The best part: Admission is free with a haircut.
The Ramen Noodle Museum: Yokohama, Japan
What: The quintessential college food staple has its own museum in Japan, for true fans and connoisseurs of the ramen noodle. It features manufacturing equipment, ramen bowls, chopsticks and wrappers, matchbooks from ramen shops, and more.
The Mustard Museum: Middleton, WI
What: More than just a gift shop, the gallery features an extensive collection of prepared mustards — more than 5,000 jars, bottles, and tubes from all 50 states and more than 60 countries. The Museum also is home to hundreds of mustard-related items of great historical importance, including mustard pots and vintage mustard advertisements.
The Museum of Irons: Russia
What: Its collection includes some 200 irons made in Russia, Germany and Poland between the 17th and 20th centuries. A guided tour is sure to inform, with details on the principles of operation and weight.
The Museum of Kettles: Russia
What: A log house in the same town as the museum of irons holds an equally strange collection: kettles. The museum has more than 100 exhibits on the subject, and includes various copper, porcelain, and German silver kettles of different types and shapes. The museum’s Web site explains that visitors can also see household utensils used in Russia in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
International Museum of Toilets: India
What: Inspired by the evolution of toilets over time, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak founded the museum to educate the public about past sanitation practices to enable innovations in the field. Pathak created of the sanitation-focused non-governmental organization Sulabh International Social Service Organization and is a consultant for the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council. The museum’s collection includes toilets from around the world, spanning the colorful history of sanitation.
The Farm Wrench Museum: The R – Lucky Star Ranch, Marsing, Idaho
What: If you like farm equipment, you’ll love a visit to the Lucky Star Ranch, which bills itself as home of the largest, organized, farm implement wrench collection in the world. The collection is housed in a former tractor shed, where museum operators also have the world’s largest sugar sack collection — which is pretty odd in itself.
The Museum of Quackery: St. Paul, Minnesota
What: The collection of the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices was moved to the Science Museum of Minnesota in 2002, but the artifacts Founder Bob McCoy gathered up remain wonderfully available there. The museum gathers up Kellogg’s early vibrating chair, the psychograph (which helped the pseudo-science of phrenology), and more.
The Museum of Funeral History: Houston, Texas
What: Open since 1992, the National Museum of Funeral History aims to “preserve the rich heritage of the funeral industry” — and does so in grand style, with over 35,500 square feet of exhibition space. It features exhibits on the lives and deaths of popes, Civil War-era embalming, fantasy coffins, like those shown here, and more.
The Museum of Bad Art: Needham, Massachusetts
What: Featuring art that’s unfit for many a museum wall, the Museum of Bad Art, or MOBA, began with a single painting being pulled from the trash. “Lucy in the Field with Flowers” was the seed from which MOBA sprung. The museum now maintains a collection of 400 pieces, which are “too bad to be ignored.”
The Mütter Museum: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What: Before the “Bodies” exhibit, there was the Mütter Museum. Created in 1858 as an educational tool for College of Physicians of Philadelphia students, the collection is composed of 20,000 specimens of medical anomalies, like a cast of Siamese Twins Chang and Eng and Joseph Hyrtl’s collection of skulls.