Museums with Weird and Strange Collections

Painting by Salvadore Dali
Painting by Salvadore Dali | Source

Tour of Weird and Strange Stuff

A museum is a museum, right? Paintings, antiques, arrow heads, old bones, shards of pottery... Is that what comes to mind? Nothing is wrong with bringing a little culture to our lives, but come on, are you bored yet?

For those who are looking for something besides fine art and culture, there are many nique museums in the U. S. with weird and strange collections on display. Hidden away in small towns and out of the way places in larger cities, are some truly odd museums. Why not make some interesting side tours to see the quirkier, and sometimes darker, side of American life?

Strange Art and A Glittering Musician

For those interested in fine art and music there are two weird and wonderful places you should not miss:

  • The Salvadore Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida can be categorized as fine art, strange art and weird art all in one. This is a collection of 96 of Dali's paintings that will leave you wondering about the artist and the mind that created these works. Salvadore Dali was a Spanish artist (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) known for his surrealist work. The Salvadore Dali Museum, 1000 Third Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33764 phone (727) 823-3767

Liberace

Liberace in costume during one of his concerts.
Liberace in costume during one of his concerts. | Source
  • The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas consists of two buildings which house Liberace's collection of mirrored and rhinestone studded cars and pianos including a Phantom V Landau Rolls Royce covered with mirror tiles and etched with galloping horses, a 1934 Mercedes Excalibur studded with Austrian rhinestones the world's largest rhinestone. The other building includes the incredibly gaudy and jewel studded costumes and jewelry worn by Liberace as well as the Liberace Family gallery.

    Liberace was born Wladziu Valentino Liberace on May 16, 1919 in West Allis, Wisconson. He died Feb. 4, 1987. The original Liberace Museum on East Tropicana Avenue and Spencer in Las Vegas was closed in 2010, but a new Liberace museum is scheduled to open in 2014 at Neonopolis in Las Vegas.

Sign on Roswell WalMart Store.
Sign on Roswell WalMart Store. | Source

Corn Palace

The Corn Palace, Mitchel, SD (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Common
The Corn Palace, Mitchel, SD (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Common | Source
  • The International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico is a collection of exhibits, papers and articles about the famous Roswell Incident which took place in early July, 1947. At that time a UFO supposedly crashed outside of Roswell, but the incident was covered up and denied by the military. The museum takes itself pretty seriously with interviews, documents and photographs on display. However, the town shows a sense of humor as it boasts alien head lamp posts and even a UFO on the local WalMart. The town's main industry seems to center around the long ago alien landing.

  • The Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota shows the South Dakota sense of humor in their Underwear: A Brief History and an exhibit on Dogs as Man's Best Friend . At one time they also had an exhibit on the History of Toilet Paper. The Old Courthouse Museum, 200 W. 6th St., Sioux Falls, SD

  • The Corn Palace in Mitchel, South Dakota is a wooden palace covered with corn murals. It is redesigned each year by local artists and more than $130,000 is spent each year on it's decoration.

The Barney Smith Toilet Seat Art Museum
The Barney Smith Toilet Seat Art Museum
The Burlingame, Wisconsin Mustard Museum
The Burlingame, Wisconsin Mustard Museum
The Pez collection
The Pez collection
  • The Darwin Twine Ball Museum, Darwin, Minnesota. The world's largest twine ball made by Francis A. Johnson took 29 years of winding. View it in it's outdoor gazebo just two blocks south of Hwy 12. While you're visiting, be sure to pick up a twine ball starter kit in the gift shop so that you can get started on your own giant twine ball.

    Cawker, Kansas also has a huge ball of twine that was started by Frank Stoeber in 1953. This giant ball has been added to by residents of Cawker and grows each year. In 1959 the ball weighed 5000 pounds. Today, it weighs more than 9 Tons!

  • Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Museum in San Antonio, Texas. Barney Smith, famed Texas toilet seat artist, has a collection that now encompasses1000 seats and, though he's over 80 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down. Barney, a former plumber, began painting and modifying toilet seats over 30 years ago. Each one has special meaning to him, none are for sale. Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum , 239 Abiso Ave., San Antonio, TX

  • The Hammer Museum houses 1500 hammers in a small museum in Haines, Alaska. Hammers representing a wide range of trades, from colonial times through the industrial age to the present are on display. The Hammer Museum, P O Box 702, Haines AK 99827; 907-767-5674. Email: pahlfam@aptalaska.net.

  • The National Mustard Museum, in Middleton, Wisconsin calls itself the “Condimental Divide” and is a place of fun and frolic that is listed on the National Register of Hysterical Places. The collection features a display of more than 5,600 jars, bottles and tubes of from all 50 states and 60 countries. It also includes displays of vintage advertisements and antique mustard pots. Do try the tasting bar during your visit.

World's Largest Ball of Twine.
World's Largest Ball of Twine.
Salvation Mountain created by Leonard Knight
Salvation Mountain created by Leonard Knight | Source
  • Devil’s Rope Museum located in McLean, Texas displays the history of barbed wire including it's impact on the development of the Old West. There are number displays of both common and rare barbed wire, tools and devices used in constructing it. There is also a demonstration on how to make a barbed wire,

  • The Wilder Brain Collection at Cornell University's Uris Hall in Ithaca, NY. Eight of the sixty preserved brains from the Wilder collection are on public display in a glass case on the second floor of Uris Hall.

  • The Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Burlingame, California. Pez was created in 1927 to help people quit smoking. The museum displays vintage Pez dispensers and has a store which sells the modern versions. The Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia, 214 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010.

  • Salvation Mountain, Niland, California. Salvation Mountain is located at the eastern entrance of Slab Sity just outside of Niland, California near the compound of folk artist Leonard knight. Leonard Knight , who has worked on his project for more than twenty years, created Salvation Mountain out of paint, adobe and wood.

More Unusual and Odd Museums

  • The Hobo Museum is in Britt, Iowa. Here you will find the history of American tramps and hobos, walkers as well as riders of the rail. Make an appointment if you want to visit [641-843-9104] unless you happen to be there during Hobo Convention Week.

  • The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It boasts of over 250 weird gadgets that are supposed to cure all types of ailments. This is a fun place to visit, but you might not want to try out any of the inventions.

  • Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is located in a strip mall in Farmington, Michigan. The museum is free and brim full of antique and modern mechanical wonders. There are side show and fortune telling machines, arcade machines and many other curiosities. You'll see magic, robots, unusual coin operated games and all sorts of animated machines from the early 1900s to the present. Everything is operational.

  • The Historic New Orleans Voodoo Museum. This historical museum is found in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans. Here you will find the history of Voodoo, and folklore of zombies, Voodoo rituals and Voodoo Queens. Don't miss this museum as it is part of the history and legacy of New Orleans' culture.Visit it for an interactive experience into the world of Magic & Voodoo! For those who are brave enough, there is even a "Tour of the Undead” included in this museum adventure. Check it out at

  • The Witch Dungeon Museum & Witch History Museum are found in Salem, Massachusetts, of course. These museums offer history of witchcraft and as well as re-enactments of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 using stage sets with life-size figures, lighting and a narration - an overview of the Witch Trials of 1692.

Unbelievable Carvings and Button Collections

  • Warther Carvings Museum and Button Collection in Dover, Ohio. Mooney Warther made it his life's work to see how many pairs of interconnected pliers he could carve from one block of wood. His master work, the "plier tree" has 511 interconnected pliers carved from a single block of wood. Also in the museum are carvings of scale replicas of steam engines. Many of his carvings have built-in motors and wheels that turn.

    Also on display are over 73,000 buttons collected and displayed by Mooney's wife, Freida. 331 Karl Ave., Dover, Ohio 330-343-7513

Be Adventurous and Take a Detour Off the Beaten Path

On your next road trip, why not be adventurous and detour away from the common attractions of fine art and antiques? Find out more about America's weird and wild history by visiting some of the strangely unique collections and museums listed above. Just think of the interesting postcards you'll be able to write!

Happy Travels!

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Comments 32 comments

manum 5 years ago

This hub is really terrific. The weird and strange combine so well it is artistic.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank You, Manum! It was so much fun to do this hub and got be wondering what other strange, weird collections are tucked away out there.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

Stephanie...what a great hub! The topic is so interesting, and the individual museums profiled range from terrific to bizarre! (I won't mention which I think is which....) Wish I could visit them all. Thanks for sharing. JAYE


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, Jaye! I've been so some of these while the others are on my "to do" list! It would be fun to see them all.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Interesting info on museums Stephanie - I had no idea that there were so many unusual museums in the US


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for stopping by, CMHypno. It's quite entertaining to learn about some of these and other unique places.


Photography7777 profile image

Photography7777 5 years ago from FL

Your hubs are so enjoyable, so well 'put-together' and the photos are great. Enjoy your hubs/articles very much!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, Photography7777! I love writing Hubs, especially the ones where I can use my own photos. (I knew those thousands of photographs would come in handy some day!)


Photography7777 profile image

Photography7777 5 years ago from FL

Exactly! I know what you mean. I have (ummm, lost count of how many photos I have, too many to count now). -- Am glad you have lots of photos, because your hubs are awesome.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Sadly I heard the Liberace Museum was going to close....I hope not...I haven't gotten there yet...sorry the twine museum doesn't hit a note with me but Liberace was such a huge part of Americana and the king of bling.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for your comments, GmaGoldie. I do hope that the Liberace Museum stays open or that the memorabilia goes to a place where it can be enjoyed by the public. He was a wonderful musician and his costumes, cars and jewelry are amazing!


PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 5 years ago

I love this hub. Sometimes, these things that we call weird are things that help us relieve some of the tough to remove stress in our lives. It is good to know, read and hear about unusual things and help us forget about the seriousness of life. Thanks.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Anytime I see the words "weird" and "strange" -well, I am there. What a bunch of fun museums. See, this I like - what a great trip/tour this would make - lots of fun and lots of laughs. Don't know why I like the toilet seat one so much. The one about Questionable Medical Devices scares me. I can just image the horrors that took place.

Now I want to create a museum. But of what? My hubs?

Thanks a million for putting this list together. I'll bookmark - and rated up of course. Wonderful!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

BKcreative,

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments! When you get your weird museum going, let me know and I'll add it to my list! :)


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

Voted up and awesome! Though some of these museums sound ridiculous, I bet they are very interesting. I read about a museum of bricks one time and thought that was real funny until I saw where they had a 10,000 year old brick. Suddenly very cool.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Dolores, Some of these museums do sound silly, but that's what makes them fun! Unusual and whimsical collections like those mentioned above are sure to put a smile on your face. Thanks for stopping by to comment and vote!


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I have to ask, The wilder brains, are they from the same family?

Many of these museums sound fasinating


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Ruffridyer,

The Wilder brain collection at Cornell, once containing over 600 brains, has dwindled to 122 brains. The few that are on display are from people of different walks of life: a naturalist, a psychologist, a murderer, a suffragist and Burt Green Wilder, the professor of psychology who founded the collection.

Thanks for your comments!


MSantana profile image

MSantana 5 years ago from Madison Wisconsin

You just provided some interesting places to visit. Thanks. I have been at the Mustard and some other interesting exhibits worth to write about. Thanks for stopping by at my page too.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

MSantana - The Mustard Museum is one I haven't had the pleasure of visiting. It sounds like fun-- especially if there's a corned beef sandwich nearby! Thanks for stopping by to comment!


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 5 years ago from trailer in the country

Very interesting...I plan to read more.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hello again, Enlydia. Thanks for checking this out and taking time to comment!


iZeko profile image

iZeko 5 years ago

Wow, it's amazing what you can find in a museum! Very interesting topic. I really enjoyed this hub.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I've been to five of these; looks like I have my work cut out for me. Great hub and I am for sure keeping this one for our next vacation.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Billybuc - If you've been to five of these weird museums, you're doing good! Don't you love some of the very odd things that you find in out-of-the-way museums!


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Wow! Fascinating stuff! I would love to see the Voodoo museum. That would have to have some beautiful things. And just for fun, we have to see the Toilet Seat Museum. I mean...who could resist that?

Great hub!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Sharkye11 - Well, the Voodoo museum and the Toilet Seat Museum are sure to have some "treasures" that you wouldn't find in the Smithsonian! :) It would be fun to go off the beaten path to see some of these weird museums! Thanks for stopping in to read!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Oh, Stephanie-I loved this hub-it must appeal to the 'gypsy' in me to explore these quirky museums. A 9 ton ball of twine, get out of here. That's a lot of string. I'd love to see the toilet seat museum. What will people think of next? Maybe I should start one in my house called the dust bunny museum.

Rated up/and across. This was a great hub idea.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Denise - I love the Dust Bunny Museum! That would be quite a novelty, though I'm afraid you might have a little competition if you looked under my bed.... Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

What a cool collection of museums! I'd like to visit the Pez and Liberace museum, but would pass on a few others. Well done Steph, very entertaining hub! Just a suggestion, but I think there should be a Stephanie Dessert Museum ;)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Sunshine - Very cool suggestion, Linda, but I'm afraid a Stephanie Dessert Museum would have a very short life span if visitors were left alone with the "displays." While I haven't visited all of these museums personally, I was fortunate enough to have seen the Liberace museum, and it was amazing. I've heard that it might be closing - very sad.


ghalkett profile image

ghalkett 12 months ago from Dayton, Ohio

Nice- a few more places for my bucket travel list!

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