24 of the World’s Weirdest Museums

Vent Haven Museum: Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

Museums play a vital role in global history. Each contains incredible finds and artifacts to preserve them for future generations. They are entertaining and informative and should offer a great day out for visitors.

However, not all museums are mainstream, and certain establishments are more niche.

1. Derwent Pencil Museum: Cumbria, UK

Derwent Pencil Museum
Image Credit: Stinglehammer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

England’s Lake District boasts some of the most beautiful natural sights in the country. Tourists flock here in great numbers, but relatively few visitors will take in one of Cumbria’s more unusual attractions. The Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick claims to house the first pencil and contains one of the most enormous surviving coloring pencils in the world.

2. International Cryptozoology Museum: Portland, Maine

International Cryptozoology Museum
Image Credit: Bigmacthealmanac – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Cryptozoology studies mythical creatures such as the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot. Because their existence is disputed, there isn’t much evidence to display, but the International Cryptozoology Museum showcases models and has thousands of exhibits. I studied the subject in lockdown, and this museum is on my radar.

3. Baked Bean Museum of Excellence: Port Talbot, Wales

Baked Bean Museum of Excellence
Image Credit: Baked Bean Museum of Excellence.

Reports claim that this museum has now closed. If that is the case, it’s a sad day. The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence is run by Captain Beany, whose passion for the pulse is unmatched. He even ran as a UK electoral candidate, and I hope his dream of raising baked bean awareness lives on.

4. Cup Noodles Museum: Ikeda, Japan

Cup Noodle Museum: Ikeda, Japan
Image Credit: Jun Gamer/Cup Noodle Museum.

Many enjoy a cup noodle meal, but should we think twice before discarding the packaging? The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, to give it its full name, has over 800 lids and packets from around the world. Visitors can design their product, and there’s even a kitchen to prepare a cup noodle lunch.

5. Tap Water Museum: Beijing, China

Beijing Museum of Tap Water, Beijing China
Image Credit: Centre of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism.

The Museum of Tap Water has a claim for the strangest museum on this list. Like me, you might wonder what’s exhibited here. Exhibits include 130 artifacts, including vintage water coupons and a mini working filtration system.

6. Heinz History Center: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Heinz History Center Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Image Credit: Alex Liivet – CC0/Wiki Commons.

The operators of the Heinz History Center like to point out that this is more than just a ketchup museum. It’s a record of life in Western Pennsylvania, and they like to think of it as a Pittsburgh People’s Museum. Visitors, however, regularly refer to the “ketchup museum” when leaving reviews. It’s understandable, as some highlights include an 11-foot monster ketchup bottle.

7. Colman's Mustard Shop and Museum: Norwich, England

Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum: Norwich, England
Image Credit: Fæ, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Not to be outdone by the Heinz company, UK mustard producers Colman’s have their museum in the heart of Norfolk. There are at least three museums worldwide, but this location is small, quaint, and produced with typical English understatement. I’ve visited this museum, which doubles as a store where customers can buy produce and exclusive gifts.

8. British Lawnmower Museum: Southport, England

British Lawnmower Museum: Southport, England
Image Credit: Rept0n1x – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

England is a nation of eccentrics, so it’s no surprise that many of these odd museums exist here. The British Lawnmower Museum in Southport has many exhibits, including early push-powered models and the first robotic examples. There’s even a mower that belonged to King Charles III!

9. Vent Haven Museum: Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

Vent Haven Museum: Fort Mitchell, Kentucky
Image Credit: 5chw4r7z – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

If you find ventriloquist dolls creepy, this museum is the stuff of nightmares. As the name suggests, the Vent Haven museum is a sanctuary for these dolls, with over 1,100 dummies now enjoying their retirement in Kentucky. Some exhibits were used by famous performers. Visits are by appointment only.

10. Avanos Hair Museum: Avanos, Turkey

Avanos Hair Museum: Avanos, Turkey
Image Credit: Nevit Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The Vent Museum wouldn’t freak me out, but I’d find this unsettling. The hair museum lies in the Turkish town of Avanos. The concern is that it focuses on female hair sourced from over 16,000 women. It includes their names, so they were happy to contribute, but this museum is in the “weird” category.

11. Vacuum Cleaner Museum: Heanor, UK

Vacuum Cleaner Museum: Heanor, UK
Image Credit: Mr Vacuum Cleaner.

At the rear of the Mr Vacuum Cleaner Shop in this Derbyshire Town lies a celebration of this household appliance. Owner James Brown admits to having a love of vacuum cleaners since the age of four, and he now owns the world record for the most extensive collection. I love the Derby Telegraph article from 2022, which talks about Derbyshire’s only vacuum cleaner museum — as if there could be demand for another!

12. Museum of Plugs and Sockets: The Netherlands

Museum of Plugs and Sockets: The Netherlands
Image Credit: Museum of Plugs and Sockets.

Don’t get too excited about this museum. It sounds fascinating, but it’s digital only. While it would be nice to see exhibits in person, you can still visit the museum's website and learn more about plugs and their sockets. There are historical examples, and this is a valuable site for anyone traveling abroad who wants to carry the correct plugs and adapters.

13. Arna Bontemps Can Opener Museum: San Francisco, California

Old can opener
Image Credit: Cornell University Library – No restrictions/Wiki Commons.

Have you ever wanted to see a can opener from the early 1800s? No, neither have I, but this is the place to be if you are fascinated with this household implement. The Arna Bontemps Museum was founded in 2000 and now holds over 200 exhibits. Visitors can view each one while learning about the history of the can opener.

14. Norwegian Canning Museum: Stavanger, Norway

Norwegian Canning Museum
Image Credit: Wolfmann – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The canning industry provides vital revenue to the area's people, so I’m being respectful about this museum. It is always interesting to learn about local industry, but the presence of so many cans puts the Norwegian Canning Museum in the “odd” category. It’s in Stavanger Old Town, and reviews claim it offers genuine fun for all ages.

15. Fisogni Museum of the Petrol Station: Tradate, Italy

Fisogni Museum of the Petrol Station: Tradate, Italy
Image Credit: Moxmarco – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

I confess to being fascinated by some of these entries, and the Fisogni Museum is on my must-see list. Anyone interested in automotive history will be delighted by this location, even if the general public considers it “weird.” The Fisogni Museum of the Petrol Station opened in 1966, and it’s the largest of its kind, with gas pumps, station artifacts, and other petroliana on show.

16. Barbed Wire Museum: La Crosse, Kansas

Barbed Wire Museum, Kansas
Image Credit: Barbed Wire Museum.

Have you ever stopped to wonder about the history of barbed wire? Of course, you haven’t, but if you are near La Crosse, this museum will tell you everything you need to know. This Kansas city is known as the “Barbed wire capital of the world,” and the museum hosts over 2,000 exhibits. Other museums are available, but this is the place to be if you love barbed wire.

17. Corkscrew Museum: Vogtsburg im Kaiserstuhl, Germany

Corkscrew Museum: Vogtsburg im Kaiserstuhl, Germany
Image Credit: Harro Hallmann/Corkscrew Museum.

If you’re not a fan of can openers, why not try this German museum dedicated to the world of the corkscrew? We take this helpful home device for granted, but the many exhibits outlining its history should make it more appreciated. There’s a lack of reviews for this odd museum, so who will step forward to offer their first-hand experience?

18. Electric Ladyland Museum of Fluorescent Art: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Electric Ladyland Phosphorescence Museum: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Image Credit: Electric Ladyland Phosphorescence Museum.

Outside of the UK, the Netherlands can claim to be the world’s center of odd museums. In the capital, Amsterdam, you can visit this curiosity if you are interested in unusual artworks. The museum dedicates itself to fluorescent art, with its eerie glow under UV lighting. The location also has an impressive collection of fluorescent fish to complete the picture.

19. The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History: London, England

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History: London, England
Image Credit: Robert Lamb, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Many museums worldwide showcase taxidermy, but Viktor Wynd takes the art of stuffed animals to a new level. The two-headed lamb is the best example. The term “curiosities” doesn’t go far enough, and many exhibits are bizarre. Celebrity body matter, dodo bones, body parts, and other weird artifacts exist.

20. World Soil Museum: Wageningen, Netherlands

World Soil Museum: Wageningen, the Netherlands
Image Credit: Tomislav Hengl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Soil is essential, but I’m not sure I want to stare at it for several hours. Over at the World Soil Museum, you can look at examples of soil types worldwide. What this museum lacks in entertainment, it makes up for in education.

21. House of Marbles: Bovey Tracey, England

House of Marbles: Bovey Tracey, England
Image Credit: House of Marbles.

The phrase “to lose your marbles” suggests that someone is going a little crazy, but many sane people pilgrimage to this museum. Like the World Series of baseball, the Marbles World Championship takes place in one country. England is the destination, so the planet’s most fantastic marble museum should also be here. The House of Marbles has been operational since 1973 and can ship products worldwide.

22. Meguro Parasitological Museum: Tokyo, Japan

Meguro Parasitological Museum: Tokyo, Japan
Image Credit: Laika ac – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Yes, you worked that out correctly. It’s a museum of parasites, and it’s a good idea to avoid this location if you’ve filled your stomach at Japan’s ramen museum. Among the many exhibits is the world’s most giant measured tapeworm at a disgusting but impressive 29 feet.

23. National Museum of Funeral History: Houston, Texas

National Museum of Funeral History: Houston, Texas
Image Credit: Rob Fairman/National Museum of Funeral History.

A visit to this museum isn’t the dreadful experience that it suggests. Robert L. Waltrip established the National Museum of Funeral History. He was a funeral director who wanted to showcase the exciting aspects of his profession, and the location included custom-made coffins and vintage coaches. The museum has also exhibited critical historical artifacts, including Abraham Lincoln’s death mask and George Washington’s funeral bill.

24. Museum of Bad Art: Boston, Massachusetts

Museum of Bad Art: Boston, Massachusetts
Image Credit: Museum of Bad Art.

If you don’t know what to do with your children’s terrible artwork and are too embarrassed to display it at home, why not donate it to a museum? Boston’s Museum of Bad Art was founded in 1993 when Scott Wilson found a perfect example of the craft in the trash. Friends suggested he start a collection, and the project spiraled. For an exhibit to qualify, it must be unintentionally bad. The museum will not display deliberately poor work.

Author: Matt Harris

Title: Writer

Expertise: Sports, music, travel, food, trending topics

Bio:

Matt is a journalist who began his career writing for print media in the 1990s. After filing cricket reports for local newspapers, he contributed to many periodicals in the spheres of sport, collecting, and food and drink. Having attended hundreds of concerts and sporting events, he now focuses on music as well as sport, and is happy to have lasted through to the digital age.