Are you the type of person who’s wary about going to museums of fear of being bored out of your mind? Would you much rather stay at home instead of looking at ancient artifacts from behind glass cases? Today, we think our mission of getting you off the couch and sending you out the door is already cut out for us because we’ll be sharing with you a couple of museums that are in no way dull or boring.
These museums house some pretty interesting artifacts that will definitely grab your attention and possibly even change your mind set about museums. Okay, some of these things are pretty old, like the ones housed in the Museum of Jurassic Technology, but if you want to learn more about the dogs used for the Soviet Space Program or works of art that need a microscope in order to be viewed, then this is the place to be (just don’t expect to look at dinosaur bones).
If you’re tired of looking at sculptures and paintings, we’re happy to report that these museums offer pieces that are a bit more, shall we say, unconventional. Take the Kansas Barbed Wire museum, for example, or the Icelandic Phallological Museum, where you can browse to your heart’s content and ogle at different types of barbed wire or penises belonging to different animals in the Mammalian Class.
These places are not only ideal destinations for traveling parties in a foreign town, but also for locals who are interested in something new and bizarre. Whether or not you agree that these museums should have been built in the first place, they at least provide amusement to their visitors, share knowledge about different cultures across the world and preserve artifacts for the generations to come.
WHAT: BRITISH LAWNMOWER MUSEUM
WHERE: 106-104, Shakespeare St., Southport, Lancanshire, Great Britain
MUSEUM HOURS: Mondays to Saturdays, except holidays (9am-5:30pm)
If you’re living somewhere in Asia and you’re wondering not how green the grass is on the other side of the world but how it’s trimmed, then you might as well get on a plane and visit the British Lawnmower Museum (yep, you read it right). The people behind this place have dedicated their time, effort and exhibit space to showcase over 200 vintage lawnmowers that you won’t be able to find in any hardware store nowadays no matter how hard you tried. Some of the lawnmowers on display here are models that didn’t make it to the market.
The museum has an extensive archive on lawnmowers and their respective parts, even the manuals that came with them. Part of their archives focuses on the histories of the machines themselves, and even some pretty famous ones used by the rich and famous. Interested in knowing which lawnmower belonged to Prince Charles or even Princess Di? This museum can give you the answer.
At the museum shop, you can search for spare parts and if need be, have them specially ordered for you. If you have a lawnmower at home that needs repairing, the museum also offers repair services. Finally, if you found this place extremely fascinating, spread the word to your other gardener friends and encourage them to donate any old or malfunctioning lawnmowers to the museum as a way to expand their exhibits. This just goes to show how far some people will go to remind everyone of the brilliance of British engineering and keeping its heritage alive.
WHAT: MUSEUM OF JURASSIC TECHNOLOGY
WHERE: 9341 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA
MUSEUM HOURS: Thursday (2-8pm); Friday, Saturday, Sunday (12-6pm)
Despite the incredible absence of dinosaur bones, the Museum of Jurassic Technology features some pretty bizarre and unusual relics. This museum may not house fossils of “larger than life” animals that have long since left our planet, but try peeking into a microscope and attempt to comprehend the hard work that Henry Dalton put into making his micromosaics. Each of these minute pieces of art took hours and hours of laborious work. Dalton had a collection of butterfly wings whose different colors formed an extensive palette which he used for his work. Despite the incredible detail in his artwork like individual leaves on a branch and bird legs, keep in mind that an accidental sneeze is pretty much all it takes for the whole thing to be destroyed. Not to be outdone are the micromosaics of Hagop Sandaldjian, which portray some teeny people in action.
The museum also has exhibit focusing on some canine celebrities, if you will, and their contributions to the field of astronomy. Here, much can be learned about Laika the famed dog who became the first creature born on Earth to be launched into space as part of the Soviet Space Program, and the ten other dogs that followed in her extra terrestrial travels.
At the Napoleon Library, you can view some well preserved ferns and moss that were taken from the tomb of the great leader himself. Also on display are some rocks and mortar taken from the tomb.
WHAT: ICELANDIC PHALLOLOGICAL MUSEUM
WHERE: Hedinsbraut 3a 640 Husavik, Iceland
MUSEUM HOURS: The museum is open during the months of May through September (12-6pm)
In our list of unusual museums, the Icelandic Phallological Museum probably takes the cake. There are over 80 penises on display at this particular museum, most of which belong to mammals native to the country of Iceland. The exhibit also has a number of penile parts on display. Not everyone may share amusement or grossness towards the specimen being featured here, but one thing is for sure, you won’t leave the place with a yawn and a bored look on your face. The museum aims to spread the word on Phallology, which is as museum administrators admit, generally thought of as a borderline study next to history, psychology and even artistic fields such as literature and ballet.
Here, you won’t be short of male reproductive organs found in whales, polar bears, walruses, reindeer, bulls, and even rats. There is even a section on folklore pieces, featuring specimen from a supposed water horse, homo sapien, merman, and troll.
WHAT: MUSEUM OF EROTICISM
WHERE: 72 Boulevard de Clichy, Paris
MUSEUM HOURS: Everyday (10am-2am)
Erotic art from different countries all over the world such as Japan, Africa and India are all housed within the walls of the Museum of Eroticism which is located in one of the most romantic cities in the world—Paris. Unlike other museums, established decades ago and are practically institutions in their respective cities, this museum was established just 13 years ago back in 1997, but has obviously gained popularity not only among the city residents but also in the global museum industry as well.
The entire collection is housed in five separate floors that make up the whole museum. One floor focuses on brothels that were popular during the 19th century and also the early part of the 20th century, locally referred to as the maisons closes. There is also a film showing on short pornographic material. Other pieces of art include paintings, photographs, toys and even pottery. As museums usually go, some of the pieces here date back many years ago, but if you venture to the upper levels of the building, you’ll find pieces by a number of contemporary artists.
WHAT: GLORE PSYCHIATRIC MUSEUM
WHERE: 3406 Frederick Avenue, Missouri
MUSEUM HOURS: Monday to Saturday (10am-5pm); Sunday (1-5pm)
Inside the Glore Psychiatric Museum, one can learn a great deal about mental health, and the interesting 150 year history of this place that once served as the treatment facility for patients who were mentally ill. The museum is also referred to as the State Lunatic Asylum No. 2 and features interactive displays, extensive documents giving visitors a picture of how patients with mental illnesses were treated many years ago, replicas, and even some well preserved artifacts. This museum works as a tool to help spread awareness about mental health and help in diminishing the stigma that ordinary people usually associate with the treatments applied on psychiatric patients. It is interesting to note that this is the vision that museum founder George Glore held close to his heart.
Browsing through the exhibits, visitors will learn about the various methods used to treat patients, plus the fact that the museum itself first opened as a clinic back in 1874, servicing 25 patients. Treatment courses included burning, public humiliation, also blistering. A part of the exhibit that might make a significant imprint in your memory depicts the things that patients swallowed. In fact, this place is so unconventional and out of the ordinary that it has actually gained popularity by being included in the list of 50 most unusual museums in the U.S. Aside from that, the museum can also be found in the pages of the book entitled “1000 Places to See Before You Die in the USA and Canada”.
WHAT: MUTTER MUSEUM
WHERE: 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA
MUSEUM HOURS: Everyday (10am-5pm)
Learning about anatomy is the order of the day here at the Mutter Museum, which is why the entire place is filled with a human anatomical specimen, medical instruments, memorabilia from famous scientists, medical illustrations and many more all geared towards advancing one’s knowledge on health and medicine.
Medical anomalies also take the spotlight in this museum. Here, you can view a plaster cast of a pair of Siamese twins who shared one liver. Over 2,000 objects extracted from human throats make up one collection that is also exhibited here. There is also a medicinal plant garden if you’re particularly interested in herbal medicine.
WHAT: KANSAS BARBED WIRE MUSEUM
WHERE: La Crosse, Kansas
MUSEUM HOURS: The museum is open during the months of May through September (10am-4:30pm)
In the off chance that you care about barbed wire so much that you would be willing to spend an hour or so just looking at different samples of it, then mark a space in your calendar from the months of May to September and make an appointment to visit the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum.
The museum offers from pretty interesting information about barbed wire, which if we’re going to be honest, is something that we don’t usually pay attention to. For example, you can learn here that barbed wire is commonly called the “Devil’s Rope” in American History. The museum actually makes an effort to trace the history of this piece of material which has over the years become a multi million dollar industry. There are about 200 types of barbed wire on display here, some of which even date as far back as 1890 and even 1870. A number of dioramas portray how barbed wire was used in the early years after it was manufactured; and a special theater shows educational films about barbed wire.
You can even read up on how to become part of a wire collectors organization. Aside from that, there’s also some information here on how to engage in the business of buying, selling, and also trading wire.
WHAT: SULABH MUSEUM OF TOILETS
WHERE: Sulabh Bhawan, Mahavir Enclave, Palam Dabri Marg, New Delhi, India
MUSEUM HOURS: Monday to Saturday (10am-5pm)
Tracing the evolution of one of the most important inventions made by man is the focus of the Sulabh Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India. The founder of the museum, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, also aims to find ways of solving the sanitation not only in his home country, but also in many countries around the world by showing how toilets first came to be, how they were developed and improved through the years, and how modern technology can help in coming out with better designs and functions for the humble but ever so useful toilet.
Through careful study and endless hours of poring over documents, the museum has traced the history of the toilet way back to as early as 2500 BC. It notes the dates when the first public toilet was installed in Paris, and the time when gold was used to decorate the toiled used by none other than Queen Victoria.
An interesting thing that can be found here is the Aryan Code of Toilets believed to have been implemented during 1500 BC. Found in the Manusmriti Vishnupuran scripture, it is basically a code for defecation meant to be followed depending on your current status; for example, if you were married, sick or observing celibacy.
if not, come back tomorrow on journeyetc.com and see what's new :)