The World’s Weirdest Museums

The Messner Mountain Museum (MMM)
The Messner Mountain Museum (MMM)

When you think of museums, you probably think of old, ornate buildings filled with the most beautiful masterpieces from classical and contemporary art. But this isn’t always the case… There are some museums which are the total opposite of what you’d expect. They’re funny, they’re impressive, sometimes they’re a bit frightening, often they’re totally unique. Artsper has put together a list of bizarre museums from around the world, and information on how you can visit them.

El Dorado, the Museum of Gold

El Dorado, the museum of gold
El Dorado, the Museum of Gold

Where: Bogotá – Colombia
When: Tuesdays – Sundays
How much: 4000 COP, free on Sundays

The Museum of Gold showcases goldsmithery from each of the indigenous cultures who thrived in the region before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. It hosts 35,000 works in an astonishing tribute to the skills of the indigenous population. In addition, there are almost 30,000 pieces made from ceramics, stone, shells, bones, and textiles. The collection is organised over five floors, with each divided into a thematic selection. You can learn more about metalwork, people and gold in pre-hispanic Colombia, cosmology and symbolism, offerings and sacrifice, and exploration.

The Underwater Museum

The Underwater Museum, Cancún
The Underwater Museum, Cancún

Where: Cancún – Mexico
When: That depends on the tour, but they run most days
How much: $30 – $140 (USD), again depending on the tour

The Underwater Museum is a not for profit organisation with a focus on art and conservation. There are four different ways you can visit this unique site: scuba diving, snorkelling, glass bottomed boat, or a personalised tour. In the ‘museum’ itself, you’ll find nearly 400 sculptures in alkaline cement, fibreglass, and other tough, eco friendly materials. Even better, the museum aims to develop its own ecosystem of coral and fish, having designed the site to encourage the development of an artificial reef.

The Museum of Bad Art

Lucy in the field with flowers, from the MOBA
Lucy in the field with flowers, from the MOBA

Where: Somerville, MA – USA
When: It’s only open when the theatre is showing films, so make sure to double check in advance
How much: It’s free!

This museum honours all the bad art, the failed art, the ugly art. The MOBA (Museum of Bad Art) aims to “collect and display the worst of the artworld”. Inspiration for the museum came when Scott Wilson, an antiques collector, found the canvas Lucy in the Field with Flowers (pictured above) and decided to start a collection of the worst artworks he could find. The museum now hosts some sixty-odd artworks that are just “too bad to be ignored”.

Museum of Broken Relationships

Diamond ring - She believed/He lied
Diamond ring – She believed/He lied

Where: Zagreb – Croatia / Los Angeles, CA – USA
When: Every day, but hours vary
How much: Los Angeles: $18 – Zagreb: 40kn

The Museum of Broken Relationships is home to the sad stories and depressing relics of relationships gone wrong. Visitors from all around the world can discover new depths of emotion, hear the stories and witness the memories tied up in the objects on display. The Museum hopes to emphasise how different people are, and therefore how unique each relationship is, but also how – at the end of the day – we all go through very similar emotions when suffering a break up.

Torture Museum

Instrument of torture in the Amsterdam Torture Museum
Instrument of torture in the Amsterdam Torture Museum

Where: Amsterdam – The Netherlands
When: Every day
How much: €7.50

This grisly museum brings together old instruments of torture in order to pay witness to human cruelty. The museum is gloomy and labyrinthine, with hideous machinery lurking in darkened rooms. All in all, it’s a pretty harrowing visiting experience. Within the huge collection there are well known instruments like the guillotine, but also equipment that is far more mysterious and therefore all the more terrifying, like the horrifying Nuremberg Virgin.

Vent Haven Museum, Museum of Ventriloquism

Vent Haven Museum
Vent Haven Museum

Where: Fort Michell, KY – USA
When: Summer, by appointment at least 48 hours in advance
How much: Voluntary donation, but $10 minimum is suggested

The Vent Haven Museum houses more than 900 ventriloquist’s dolls, each with its own history. You can only go into the museum with a guided tour, lasting between 45 and 90 minutes, so that you can properly appreciate the individual backstories of the dolls. W.S. Berger, the creator of the museum, spent 40 years putting together his collection of photos, dolls, scenery, souvenirs, posters and recordings from the world of ventriloquism.

The Ramen Museum

The Ramen Museum, Japan
The Ramen Museum, Japan

Where: Shin-Yokohama – Japan
When: Every day
How much: 310Yen 

This museum is completely dedicated to ramen, the traditional Japanese dish comprised of noodles in a fish or meat based broth. The museum is divided into four parts: the “instant ramen” gallery, then the historical section in which you learn more about this typical Japanese dish. Next there’s the gift shop, where you can pick up ramen from all over Japan. Finally, there’s a replica of Tokyo in the 1950s, including a restaurant and, just next to it, Dagashi-ya on Yu-yake Shoten, the main shopping street.

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum, Washington DC
International Spy Museum, Washington DC

Where: Washington DC, USA
When: Every day
How much: $22.95

The Spy Museum is in Washington DC – the capital of the USA but also the capital of espionnage. It houses over 7000 artifacts, which trace the long, secretive history of this mysterious career path. Visitors can even get a glimpse of the current, top secret workings of the CIA. Alongside this, you can expect to see a whole host of spying gadgets, from James Bond’s famous Aston Martin DB5 to a pistol disguised as a lipstick.

Dog Collar Museum

Dog Collar Museum, Maidstone, Kent, UK
Dog Collar Museum, Maidstone, Kent, UK

Where: Maidstone, UK
When: Every day
How much: £24.00

This English Museum is putting a spotlight on dog collars and their multiple uses; how they serve not only to identify our canine friends, but also to accessorize them. This unique collection comprises 100 collars that were brought together by scholar of medieval Ireland, John Hunt, and his wife Gertrude. They were supported by the Leeds Castle Foundation, and the Museum now boasts collars ranging from the Middle Ages to the Victorian era. All different sorts of collars are housed there, from hideous spiky devices resembling instruments of torture, to ornately decorated pieces bearing the owner’s coat of arms.

Hair Museum

Avanos Hair Museum, Chez Galip, Turkey
Avanos Hair Museum, Chez Galip, Turquie

Where: Avanos, Cappadocia – Turkey
When: Every day
How much: It’s free!

One of the weirdest museums on this list is hidden underneath a small ceramics shops in Avanos, Turkey. The small space houses more than 16,000 locks of women’s hair, which female visitors ate invited to donate. Thanks to these donations, the museum is now listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. There’s an additional incentive to leave your locks behind; twice a year a winner is chosen at random. The prize is a week’s stay in the adjoining guest house, and the chance to take pottery classes with Galip himself – the eccentric but highly talented owner of the establishment.

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