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Museums with Weird and Strange Collections
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
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.
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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!
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