Sunday, May 10, 2015

7 Weird American Museums

Museums…we've all been to them whether in our home town or on our travels.  And there are all types of museums housing and displaying treasures depicting so many different themes.  There are art museums presenting all types of art from the paintings of the old masters to modern art and all varieties in between, museums dedicated to specific historical events and times, living history museums including live demonstrations and presenters in period costumes, museums of cultural relevance, and museums such as those of the Smithsonian that cover just about everything from fossils to space travel.

I recently saw an article listing what it claimed to be the 7 weirdest museums in America.  And I have to admit, I think they really hit on a good selection.  So here, in no particular order, is their list of 7.

1)  National Museum of Funeral History
This Houston, Texas, museum was founded in 1992 and claims that "any day above ground is a good one."  The museum's mission is to preserve the heritage of the funeral industry.  They offer exhibits such as a full-scale replica of Pope John Paul II's crypt, a 1900s casket factory and a Civil War embalming diorama.

2)  Leila's Hair Museum
This Independence, Missouri, museum is dedicated to…you guessed it…hair.  According to the museum, in Victorian times it was popular to make wreaths, jewelry and other ornamentations out of human hair and Leila's Hair Museum keep the tradition alive.  Visitors can see 159 wreaths and over 2000 pieces of jewelry containing or made of human hair that dates back before 1900.

3)  Mutter Museum
This Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, museum is probably the best known of those on this list.  I've seen it in show segments on the Travel Channel.  It's a museum of medical oddities and specimens such as Grover Cleveland's tumor, a conjoined liver from Siamese twins, a slide of a murderer's brain, a woman who turned to wax after death.

4)  Trash Museum
This Hartford, Connecticut, museum personifies the old adage that one man's trash is another man's treasure.  The museum is run by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority.  Exhibits include an operating recycling facility, a mural showing the history of trash management and a visualization of how much trash a single person produces in a year.

5)  SPAM Museum
And we're not talking about unwanted email.  This Austin, Minnesota, museum is dedicated to SPAM, often heralded as America's favorite canned meat.  The Hormel company created SPAM in 1937 and today there are 13 SPAM products.  Museum visitors can practice canning SPAM and brush up on SPAM trivia including its role in World War II.

6)  The Museum Of Bad Art
Good art can be found anywhere, but bad art?  That's a whole different thing.  This museum founded in 1993 has 3 Massachusetts locations—Dedham, Somerville, and Brookline and is "dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory."

7)  Devil's Rope Museum
This McLean, Texas, museum was founded in 1991 and is the largest barbed wire museum in the world.  Appropriately nicknamed devil's rope, the barbed wire museum gives the history of barbed wire, shows artifacts, the significance of the invention, and the impact on the development of the Old West.

Do you have any weird museums in your town or have you come across any in your travels?


Ashantay said...

I've visited many museums, but none this these! Don't know that I'd pay money to see bad art or hair...

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: I watch the Mysteries At The Museum series on the Travel Channel. Each episode consists of several segments, each segment about a specific item at a specific museum. They've showcased several items from the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Don't remember if it was Mysteries At The Museum or a different program, but I saw a segment about the Hair Museum...IMHO, deserving of the word "weird"...I remember thinking at the time that I wasn't interested in paying money to visit it. But obviously there are people who do or it wouldn't exist.

Thanks for your comment.

Barbara Bettis said...

Well, these were all new to me. I was especially surprised at the Hair Museum in Independence. I once lived in KC and knew nothing about that place. But it probably wouldn't have made any difference :) Thanks for the info on all these--ah--interesting locations ;)

Angelina Jameson said...

Museum of bad art... That is so cool!

vicki batman said...

These are hilarious!

Samantha Gentry said...

Barb: Yes, the Hair Museum definitely belongs on the "weird" list. :)

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Angelina: It would seem to me that there is an endless supply of potential exhibits for a museum featuring bad art. :)

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Vicki: Glad you enjoyed them.

Thanks for your comment.