Europe is a weird place. It's historical, beautiful, romantic, and magical, but weirdness seeps from every nook and cranny. The old continent is a world of quirky traditions, strange obsessions, cultural curiosities, and much more. In Europe, you are never far from something entirely out of the ordinary.
These 11 weird museums in Europe are a celebration of all that strangeness. You can find all sorts of things here, from coffin factories to lipstick via heartbreak, failed languages, noses, and forgeries. No visit to Europe is complete without embracing the bizarre, the baffling, the unexplainable, and the unorthodox. Europe wouldn’t be Europe without its weird side.
1. Devil Museum—Kaunas, Lithuania
If paying homage to the devil seems a little unusual, you aren’t wrong. The Devil Museum in Kaunas, Lithuania celebrates everything related to the character, with its collection of sculptures and carvings numbering well over 3,000. The collection belonged to artist Antanas Žmuidzinavičius, and the museum was established following his death in 1966. The museum covers three floors, although it is temporarily closed for renovation.
2. Museum of Broken Relationships—Zagreb, Croatia
No list of weird museums is complete without mentioning this place, although the changing nature of love means that maybe it isn’t so odd after all. In 2010, Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships started life as a traveling collection, eventually finding a home in the Croatian capital. Love letters, photographs, messages, and more fill the space, each an intimate window into lost romance. It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, I suppose.
3. Barbie Museum—Copenhagen, Denmark
The Barbie movie may have demolished box office records and broken the internet this summer, but there remains something undeniably creepy about a building full of dolls. Copenhagen’s Barbie Museum contains over 4,000 of dolls, from early models to the modern day. The museum tells the story of Barbie’s evolution, albeit in a different way to Margot Robbie’s star turn.
4. Nose Collection—Lund, Sweden
A nasothek is the name for a collection of sculpted noses, although the very existence of such a thing is weird enough for inclusion. The nasothek at Lund University in Sweden doubles as a museum and is a thoroughly jarring experience. First place in the “nose collection” goes to a cast of Tycho Brahe’s silver schnozz, one of more than 100 snouts on display in the museum. Noses are weird, and this is anatomy exploration at its most bizarre.
5. Esperanto Museum—Vienna, Austria
That Esperanto never caught on is no great surprise, considering how integral language is to culture. L.L. Zamenhof’s attempt at creating a second international language is now a curious piece of history. The Esperanto Museum in Vienna documents the ideas and philosophy of the language, its concepts, history, and place in Viennese history. The museum is located in the gorgeous Palais Mollard and might be the weirdest language museum in the world.
6. Museum of Art Fakes—Vienna, Austria
Sticking with the Austrian capital, the Museum of Art Fakes (Fälschermuseum) opened in 2005 to celebrate the weird and wonderful history of forged artwork. Art is big business, and its history is littered with attempts to fake priceless works, often with Hollywood-worthy drama at every turn. The Museum of Art Fakes isn’t the biggest, but it is extremely interesting, showcasing an eye for detail and a fascinating view into what makes a plagiarist tick. It might be the least original art museum in the world, but it is unique.
7. National Justice Museum—Nottingham, England
There are plenty of macabre museums around Europe, but the National Justice Museum in Nottingham takes this to an entirely different level. There is a daily hanging in the courtyard (with a catch, of course), and the exhibitions in the museum are particularly brutal. The museum is entertaining and excruciating all at once, making it a real rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish. The museum is located in an old Victorian courtroom and prison, where people went through the entire gruesome process of trial and execution.
8. Musea Sculpta—Bruges, Belgium
Wait, isn’t life experienced in 3D? It is, of course, but three dimensions take on a new meaning at this brilliant museum in Bruges, Belgium. The Musea Sculpta is the combined work of artists from all over the world, creating artworks that literally jump off the canvas. The stunning pieces were made with only water and gypsum (22 tonnes of the stuff), which is an incredible achievement in its own right. Be sure to make the most of the audio guide as you navigate this most unique of museums.
9. The Coffin Works—Birmingham, England
The Coffin Works in Birmingham takes an in-depth look at coffin making from a historical and design standpoint, detailing how caskets have developed over the centuries. The museum also tells the story of history’s most famous funerals. The Coffin Works approaches death from various angles, simultaneously humane and industrial. Birmingham is a brilliantly weird city at heart, and this museum is its most curious attraction.
10. Lipstick Museum—Berlin, Germany
Proof that you can make a museum about absolutely anything, Berlin’s Lipstick Museum remains bizarrely popular more than 15 years after opening to the public. Located in a private flat, the collection is owned by makeup artist René Koch. It covers the entire history of lipstick, from its primitive beginnings to the mass-marketed lippy seen everywhere today. It is a truly international collection, including some unique lipsticks from different periods of history.
11. Cats Museum—Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor is one of the most popular destinations in Montenegro, although the town seems to attract as many cats as it does tourists. Legend has it that the town’s feline population grew with its development as a port, and the Cats Museum is a love letter to the kitties of Kotor. The museum sits in a gorgeous section of Kotor’s famous old town, and you can almost always see a team of street cats loitering around the entrance.