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Nine Unique and Offbeat Museums in the United States

Updated on June 18, 2012

There are many museums throughout the United States that are dedicated to the arts and sciences. There are also many museums that are dedicated to a certain audience, a narrow subject or just plan wacky things. This is a list of ten of the most unique, unusual and just plan fun museums that are out there throughout the United States and they all are worth visiting if you find yourself in their area. Not all of them will be to everybody's liking but if you are looking for something out of the ordinary or have an unappreciated hobby, then one of these might be the place for you. Wherever you are in the country there are always plenty of unique and fun museums to explore and appreciate.


This museum in Los Angeles, California claims to be an educational institute but appears to be a kind of performance art, or elaborate joke. The exhibits are a collection of historical oddities that lack any real credibility for scientific or historic validity. Experiencing the museum is like walking straight into a David Lynch movie or the mind of a lunatic. Los Angeles is a city full of weirdness but this museum is on of the oddest things in the city.


Technically part of the Museum of Science in St. Paul, Minnesota, this offshoot is dedicated to the history of pseudoscience in the medical field. Sometimes called the “Museum of Quackery” you’ll see every dubious fad that has ever been championed as the key to good health throughout human history. This is a fun side trip for people who are interested in how pseudoscience has been used to trick the gullible for generations.


If you ever wondered what you could possibly be missing about barb wire then this is the museum for you! Located in McLean, Texas, this is a museum completely dedicated to the entire tangled history of barbed wire. You will be shocked at how much there is to know about barbed wire, how many different kinds of barb wire are out there and what can be made from it.


Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this museum of medical oddities is for fans of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Many skeletons and skulls of odd medical conditions are available, including a woman who grew horns out of her head. Not quite as morbid as the Museum of Death (see later in this hub) but still a bit creepy, this could be a fascinating tour for people wanting something off the beaten path.


For anybody who likes to play James Bond in their fantasies there is the International Spy Museum, in Washington DC. Not only in the museum the only one in the world dedicated to espionage, it is also an interactive game for patrons. Upon entering the museum you are given a “cover” identity and mission. While touring the museum you can complete your mission, test your memory of your cover and even be questioned by staff members (as police officers) about your cover.


For those who love kitsch, or simply things that are so bad they are awesome, there is this museum in Dedham, Massachusetts. (With a second branch in nearby Somersville.) In order to be accepted by the museum any piece of art must be considered a genuinely failed attempt at making an artistic statement. Just something that shows a lack of craft won’t do, it has to be made by somebody who truly believed in what they were doing and went hilariously wrong at some point.


Located in Roswell, New Mexico (where else?) this is a collection of the “evidence” that Ufologists have collected over the years. The museum could be viewed as either a sincere attempt to study the UFO phenomenon or a cynical way to make a buck and encourage tourism. Either way it is a fun museum to visit, with interesting exhibits arguing for the existence of extraterrestrial life and their visits to this planet.


The popularity of the circus has waned over the years, but this museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin is keeping the institution alive for future generations. The museum charts the historical significance of the circus in America. Plus, during the summer there are live circus performances to enjoy,


For the morbid among us, there is the Museum of Death in Hollywood, California. The museum features all real and not re-enacted death footage and photos including exhibits having to do with serial killers, autopsies and capital punishment. A number of people have fainted while touring the museum and despite having no age limit, they recommend that only mature audiences attend. Located nearby in the Chaos Gallery, a collection of provocative and controversial artwork.


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    • Robephiles profile image

      Robephiles 6 years ago

      A former college professor of mine informed me of the Museum of Jurassic Technology. It is always good to pass these kinds of things along.

    • Karry Campbell profile image

      Karry Campbell 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I've been to the Mutter Museum. It was great. Planning to go to The Museum of Questional Medical Devices next time I'm in St. Paul. Now that I know about the International Spy Museum and the Museum of Bad Art, I'm putting them on my list. Thanks for the info. I just love stuff like this!

    • Robephiles profile image

      Robephiles 6 years ago

      Thanks, I can't believe I left that out.

    • Nils Visser profile image

      BOOK REVIEWS 6 years ago from The Low Countries

      Excellent, I enjoyed reading this. Tip: edit and add the location of the International Spy Museum.