The word “museum” may conjure an image of white walls, a quiet atmosphere, and old paintings. But not all museums are like this. The world is full of strange but fascinating museums that are guaranteed to provide a memorable experience.
Some museums provide exhibits about dog collars, salt and pepper shakers, and even instant ramen. Others are hardly a museum, but instead, they’re a series of underground sewers. You won’t want to miss these odd, eclectic, and captivating museums from across the world.
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
If you like instant ramen, you can visit an entire museum dedicated to the inventor of cup of noodles in Osaka, Japan. Momofuku Ando invented the original chicken ramen in 1958. The Instant Ramen Museum provides interactive exhibits explaining how Ando came up with the concept.
Perhaps the museum’s most popular attraction is My Cup Noodle Factory, a workshop where you can create your own instant noodle cup. Recorded tours are available in English, and many of the signs are in English, too.
The Kent Dog Collar Museum
If you ever visit Kent, England, you may want to see the world’s only dog collar museum. Since 1976, the Kent Dog Collar Museum has explored how people have treated and pampered their pets throughout the century. You can find the building tucked inside the beautiful Leeds Castle.
The first 100 dog collars cam from medieval Irish scholar John Hunt. Since then, the Leeds Castle Foundation expanded the collection into a museum. At least 500,000 dog lovers visit the Dog Collar Museum every year.
The Museum of Miniature Books
Baku, Azerbaijan houses the only museum in the world that focuses on little books. In 2002, Zarifa Salahova, a private collector of over 30 years, opened the museum. If you visit, you will only see teeny tiny books, from Russian to English to German.
The museum’s smallest book is The Most Miraculous Thing, a 6 mm by 9 mm Russian book that requires a magnifying glass to read. The oldest artifact is a 17th-century version of the Quran. According to Salahova, she runs the museum to motivate fellow readers.
The Cancun Underwater Museum
If you want to visit the Cancun Museum of Art, you’ll have to grab some scuba gear. The waters surrounded the Isla Mujeres, Mexico, are actually the Museo Subacuatico de Arte, or MUSA for short. All of the artworks come from the English sculptor James deCaires Taylor.
Taylor has carved over 500 life-sized sculptures for this underwater exhibit, and the material has a neutral pH that will allow and support coral growth. When divers enter the water, they first see 450 human sculptures in chillingly lifelike poses.
The International Cryptozoology Museum
The International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, is the world’s only museum that focuses on mythological creatures. The founder, Loren Coleman, has gathered artifacts reflecting Bigfoot, mermaids, the Loch Ness monster, and more. If you’re a fan of cryptids, this museum is for you.
The International Cryptozoology Museum provides information on myths in a fun way while acknowledging that cryptozoology is a “gateway science.” TIME voted this the seventh weirdest museum in the world, and when guests spend time reading about the Ghost Deer (that’s impervious to bullets), they may agree.
The Salt And Pepper Shaker Museum
If you’ve never considered visiting Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you may change your mind after hearing about their museum of salt and pepper shakers. The exhibit features over 20,000 shaker sets and an enormous pepper mill. It’s a dream that cooks and chefs didn’t know they had.
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum began in the 1980s when Andrea Ludden needed a pepper mill to display her massive shaker collection. She and her husband, Rolf, still act as curators 30 years later. Today, the museum has the most impressive shaker collection on earth.
The Sewer Museum Of Paris
To visit the Sewer Museum, you’ll have to descend underground. There, you’ll find the centuries-old sewer system that extends 1,305 miles (2,100 km) below the streets of Paris, France. In 1850, engineer Eugène Belgrand began building the sewers to replace the ancient, unsanitary sewers before.
The Sewer Museum of Paris (Musée des égouts de Paris in French) didn’t open until the 1970s. Visitors can learn about sewer equipment used throughout the centuries. That said, remember not to get your hands dirty, since the museum is still a working sewer system.
Avanos Hair Museum
A small cave in Cappadocia, Turkey, is actually one of the strangest museums in the world. On the walls of the Avanos Hair Museum, guests see strings of hair from 1,600 women around the world. The paper attached to these hair strands lists the peoples’ names and where they live.
Avanos Hair Museum began in 1970 by a local potter, Chez Galip. When one of his friends moved away, he asked for a lock of hair to remember her by. Touched by the story, other locals left their hair with him, too. The museum has only grown since them.
The Museum Of Food Anomalies
The Museum of Food Anomalies (MOFA) is the only museum on this list that’s entirely online. Anyone with internet access can peruse oddly-shaped foods, from bacon shaped like Elvis to pickles with a smiley face. MOFA is one of several art projects on hanttula.com.
If you enjoy the museum, you can thank the “curator,” Michael Hanttula. He started the website in 1995, and MOFA was one of his earliest projects. The museum is now what seems “like a roadside attraction, but for the internet.”
The Museum of Bread
Humans have baked bread since 8,000 BC, and the Bread Museum in Ulm, Germany documents that entire history. The museum began as a special yeast site created by Willy Eiselen and his son, Hermann. In 1960, they started their first exhibition as the German Bread Museum.
As of 2004, the Museum of Bread has had over one million visitors. Over 16,000 artifacts represent the history of bread–but there is no real bread in the collection. The curators have also added books and art, including paintings by Picasso.
The Museum Of Bad Art
Head to Brookline and Somerville, Massachusetts, and you may encounter the Museum of Bad Art. Called “MOBA” for short, the building displays “art too bad to be ignored.” Since 1993, MOBA has gathered over 600 pieces of “art.”
Guests can visit MOBA for free. Donors from around the globe send artworks to the museum, while others come from thrift stores, flea markets, and even curbside dumpsters. And yes, the employees do take this seriously, according to their FAQ: “This institution works long and hard at building the finest bad art establishment in the world.”
The Beijing Tap Water Museum
The Beijing Waterworks Group created a museum in 2000, and they dedicated it to tap water. There, guests learn the shaky story of tap water in Beijing, China. The exhibit educates people on water conservation and sanitation, both of which some Chinese citizens struggle with.
The Beijing Tap Water Museum centers its displays on vintage technology, information on water purification, and pipe exhibits. Although the central concept seems strange, visitors may learn some fascinating points there that they didn’t expect.
The Clown Hall Of Fame And Research Center
Although at least 7.8% of Americans are scared of clowns, that hasn’t stopped the country from establishing a “hall of fame.” The International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center (ICHOF) has remained in business since 1987. The site in Baraboo, Wisconsin, was formerly the Circus World Museum.
ICHOF pays tribute to the “Art of Clowning” throughout history. Along with displaying artifacts of clowning, the museum also runs programs to teach others how to heal with laughter. If you want to visit ICHOF, expect a lot of laughs!
The Sulabh International Museum Of Toilets
Have you ever wondered about the world’s history of human toilets? If so, take a trip to New Delhi, India. While the concept might seem silly, it has important significance in India. The country’s lack of effective plumbing has endangered India’s youth, and the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets aims to educate the population on sanitation.
At the time of the museum’s creation, 60% of India–around 1.2 billion people–did not have access to clean, private restrooms. The exhibits cover hygiene practices throughout history. The museum’s collection includes a toilet that burns excrement and one disguised as a pile of books.
The Museum Of Broken Relationships
When relationships end, some people may struggle to give away the keepsakes that remind them of the other person. The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, represents this feeling. Visitors can donate their artifacts from lost relationships to move on from their pain.
Everyday objects such as watches, shoes, and teddy bears take on new meaning when they come from heartbreak. Some unique objects, such as a prosthetic leg and a taser, surprise visitors. A second Museum of Broken Relationships has recently opened in Los Angeles.
Meguro Parasitological Museum
If parasites creep you out, you may want to skip the Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo, Japan. Preserved parasites in jars of formaldehyde cover two stories of the building, including the world’s longest tapeworm, at 28 feet long (8.8 m). Guests can touch a rope of the same length to get an idea of those dimensions.
While the first story talks about parasites that infect animals, the second floor covers parasites that infect humans. Over 45,000 animals are on display at Meguro Parasitological Museum. Before guests leave, they can buy a themed birthday card or key ring.
The British Lawnmower Museum
Since 1830, the lawnmower has trimmed yards around the world. Now, there’s a museum dedicated to it in Southport, England. The British Lawnmower Museum hosts over 600 mowers, including Princess Diana’s former machine and solar-powered “robots.”
The museum also supplies garden machinery and parts to lawnmower users across the world. Along with displaying celebrity’s mowers, the exhibit also details the life of Edwin Beard Budding, who invented the lawnmower. Guests leave with a new appreciation (and possible new interest) in lawnmowers.
The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum
Barbed wire, also called the “Devil’s Rope,” has an entire museum dedicate to it in La Crosse, Kansas. The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum explores over 2,400 varieties of barbed wire, and guests can see the antique tools that have created it throughout history.
Since barbed wire is a product of the Wild West, the museum covers the history of the late 1880s as well. Fans of the Wild West may enjoy the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum in unexpected ways. Just don’t touch any of the fences on display!
The Siriraj Medical Museum
At first glance, the Siriraj Medical Museum doesn’t sound too weird. But this building in Bangkok, Thailand, focuses entirely on forensic science, which gave it the nickname “the Museum of Death.” Expect to see preserved organs, skeletons, parasites, and mummies on display.
Siriraj has six sections: pathology, forensics, parasitology, anatomy, prehistorical, and the history of Thai medicine. If guests can stomach it, they’ll see over 1,000 body parts preserved in formaldehyde. Despite seeming macabre for some people, Siriraj Medical Museum offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Museum Of Enduring Beauty
A museum in Malacca, Malaysia, is committed entirely to beauty. The Museum of Enduring Beauty portrays unique beauty standards across the world. While exploring the exhibits, visitors explore foot binding, lip stretching, and neck elongating as symbols of beauty in different cultures.
The Museum of Enduring Beauty sits on the third floor of the Muzium Rakyat. Visitors have described the experience as “shocking,” since the curators focus on forms of self-mutilation for beauty. It’s an eye-opening experience that shows how far humans will go to appear attractive.