Quiet hallways filled with echoing footsteps as people silently peer at the ancient artifacts, paintings, and sculptures in an attempt to understand culture. This is the typical image of museums but increasingly, the bigger ones have been turning to new and innovative ways to try and alter this image.
There are, however, some out there that are either so strange in their content or execution that they may completely redefine the way you think about museums.
1. Plastinarium - Guben, Germany
The controversial Plastinarium is the brainchild of Gunther von Hagens who studied medicine, chemistry, and dissection for 39 years. Here, both human and animal bodies are preserved, through a form of plastination, in various stances and states of motion so that visitors can see how muscles, tendons and the other inner workings of the body work.
The museum has been the subject of various ethical debates on body procurement and the handling of human remains post-mortem but has provided many bodies to museums all over the world for their traveling bodies exhibit and helped achieve a greater understanding of the human body.
2. The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum - Osaka, Japan
Momofuku Ando invented the world’s first instant noodles, Chicken Ramen, and since then it has become a popular staple in Japan and a cheap and easy foodstuff for college students around the world.
The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum not only celebrates his creation but also documents this chapter of Japan’s food culture as it shows the branding and packaging of it across the world and allows for tasters of limited editions eats.
3. Museum of Sex - New York City, USA
Opening in 2002, the idea behind this museum was not just the gratuitous act but rather the preservation of the history, evolution, and cultural significance of human sexuality and if you put it like that, it sounds a lot less weird.
15,000 artifacts, works of art, photography, costumes, and historical memorabilia make up the collection including a Bouncy Castle of Breasts.
4. International Spy Museum - Washington D.C
We've all seen the sort of ludicrous gadgets that are often lauded as genuine spy equipment in Hollywood movies and TV series where the technology is supposedly so advanced that it isn't available to the general public yet.
Most of these are little more than pure fantasy, but the fact that these quirky gadgets are a trope in spy films are a testament to the fact that some of these weird, wonderful and clever contraptions do genuinely exist. Here we look at few of these that are part of the International Spy Museum's collection in Washington D.C.
5. The Mummy Museum - Guanajuato, Mexico
Guanajuato is a small mining town in Mexico but it is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its many archaeological sites including the Santa Paula Pantheon’s crypts where hundreds of bodies were buried during the mid-19th century.
Part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, the Mexican Plateau, and the Sierra Madre Oriental, its climatic conditions are unique and so when families couldn't afford to pay burial taxes for these bodies they were exhumed and it was found that the conditions had perfectly mummified them. These are now on display at the museum.
6. Cancun Underwater Museum - Cancun, Mexico
With over 500 life-sized sculptures fixed to the sea floor, this museum can only be visited by those who know how to dive. A sort of oceanic art gallery, it also doubles as an artificial reef to promote the growth of coral.
As such it is both environmentally conscious and artistically interesting. Great stuff!
7. The Iceland Phallological Museum - Reykjavik, Iceland
Displaying over 215 penises and penile parts of land and sea mammals, this museum is dedicated to the study of phallology and also includes a collection of eclectic phallic art.
Why is this necessary? Well, you can tell a lot about an animal by its genitalia and some are used for other things such as a pizzle (bull’s penis) being used as a device to whip farm animals.
8. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets - New Delhi, India
Detailing the history of hygiene and sanitation from 2500 B.C. onward, this museum in India's capital also has a collection of toilet poetry.
From gold-plated toilets of Roman emperors to medieval commodes, the evolution of hygiene may seem like a strange one to commemorate but it is also an important one.
9. Torture Musem - Amsterdam, Netherlands
In the capital of the Netherlands sits a museum that remembers all the worst things humanity can do to one another with spike-covered inquisition chairs and decapitation swords.
There is a point to it all though as the museum also educates students on modern torture that is still practiced in nearly 100 countries, and pledges its support for the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
10. Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum - Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, USA
Displaying more than 800 dummies, photos, playbills, and historical books, on ventriloquism, that started out as a private collection, this renovated garage is now a full-blown museum.
It also hosts an annual ConVENTion, a ventriloquist meeting that attracts professionals and enthusiasts from around the world.