1. Cancun Underwater Museum, Cancun, Mexico
There are interactive museums, and then there’s Cancun Underwater Museum — an art exhibit that you’ll have to strap on scuba gear to appreciate. Not one for deep-sea exploration? Shallow areas also allow for snorkeling and viewing from a glass bottom boat. Fun fact: Each of the life-size sculptures is made of pH-neutral clay to promote marine growth, which means that one day there’ll be an ecosystem of creatures enjoying the art as much as you are.
2. Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb, Croatia
Ever experienced a romance for the ages, only to have it become the breakup that you’d rather time forget? The Museum of Broken Relationships feels your pain. Created by artists Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic as a way to heal from their own emotional misadventures, the exhibits have expanded to include debris from relationships worldwide. That’s right — they take donations. Go ahead, leave behind a few relics of your own.
3. International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico
Agent Mulder would be proud; the aliens at on display at the Roswell UFO Museum and Research Center are gray, not green. Visit and learn about the events surrounding the extraterrestrial crash in July 1947, and the attempts by the government to cover it all up. (Cue spooky theme music.) Believer or skeptic, this is the perfect place to start your research. Just remember: The truth is out there.
4. Franz Kafka Museum, Prague, Czech Republic
Sure, any museum can simply display artifacts. But the Franz Kafka museum aims to honor the spirit behind the author’s work. Fans of his work, you can probably guess what’s in store: piles of coal, stone statues, and the “actual” “Penal Colony” torture machine. Go for the day, but be sure to explain the symbolism to your friends who didn’t major in literature.
5. Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Who says museums have to be about dead animals in dusty display cases? The Butterfly Park in Kuala Lumpur is one of the largest of its kind, clocking in at 80,000 square feet of landscaped garden and over 5,000 live butterflies. The intellectual reason for going: What better way to learn about living creatures than to see them in action? The actual reason you’ll go: Ooh, pretty.
6. Iceland Phallological Museum, Husavik, Iceland
The Icelandic Phallological Museum is dedicated to, err…well, exactly what the name says. (Stop laughing.) Specifically, it sets itself apart by having one “specimen” from every mammal in the country. So if you’ve ever wondered how a whale penis stacks up against Homo sapiens’, now’s your chance to get answers. And hey, if the exhibits are too tasteful for you, there’s always the gift shop, which features must-have items like penis bottle openers, a flasher sculpture, and shot glasses.
7. Condom Museum, Nonthaburi, Thailand
It seems like a wasted opportunity that this museum isn’t located adjacent to the phallic museum. Then again, Thailand is one of the world’s largest producers of condoms. Not only does this two-room exhibit display prophylactics from nearly every era, but also features an area dedicated to demonstrating their strength and durability. (Just try to keep your mind out of the gutter.)
8. The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Culver City, Calif.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a cabinet of curiosities that asks patrons to determine what’s true and what’s not. Of course they don’t provide answers, so reality within its walls is whatever you make it. Have a complimentary cup of tea and a cookie in the tearoom — from supersonic bats, to dogs in space, to statues small enough to sit in the eye of a needle, you’ll have plenty to sit and discuss.
9. Mini Bottle Gallery, Oslo, Norway
Billed as the “The World’s Only Mini Bottle Museum,” the collection began as an odd hobby of the owner. It now features bottles from all over the world, laid out according to color/theme. (There’s also a bar, naturally.) Kitchy and impressive, the museum is a must for anyone who has thought about pocketing the single-serving bottles of booze on an airplane. Bonus: Skip the stairs and take the slide when you leave.
10. Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka Japan
Think that you know everything about ramen just because you made it through your college years? Chances are you’ll still be surprised by this extensive museum. Learn all about founder Momofuku Ando, and (perhaps best of all) make your own “fresh” cup of instant noodles. Decorate the container, pick your toppings, and roll your own noodles. Volia! The ultimate souvenir for you, or birthday gift for your med student cousin.
11. Katten Kabinet, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Stunning canals, famous works of art, legalized weed and…cats? OK, so maybe our feline friends aren’t what most people think of when they’re planning a trip to Amsterdam. Founded in 1990 by William Meijer in memory of his cat Tom (aww…) the Katten Kabinet is a shrine to our four-legged buddies in painted and sculpted form. With five cats in residence, you’re bound to have a purrfect afternoon.
12. The Bunny Museum, Pasadena, Calif.
Pack rats? Try pack bunnies. Meet Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanskil, proud owners of the world’s biggest collection of bunny paraphernalia. Unafraid of puns, they invite rabbit lovers to the “The Hoppiest Place on Earth,” conveniently located in the couple’s Pasadena, Calif., home. Don’t forget to bring a few treats for your hosts’ seven live rabbit roommates.
13. Sulabh International Toilet Museum, New Delhi, India
New Delhi’s International Museum of Toilets isn’t just a tribute to the porcelain throne (although you’ll certainly be shocked at the variety displayed), but a call for sanitation improvements in third world countries as a means to improve overall health conditions. Museum curator Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak runs Sulabh International, the largest nonprofit in India dedicated to that very cause. We can all agree: Life without toilets would be seriously crappy.
14. Currywurst Museum, Berlin, Germany
Fancy a cultural experience and a snack? Wrap your brain (and teeth) around the Currywurst Museum in Berlin, Germany. The exhibits offer a kitschy look at the country’s iconic dish. Play a few currywurst-themed video games, watch a video of people eating sausages, and have a seat on a meat-shaped sofa while you enjoy a few choice samples.
15. Museum of Bad Art, Somerville Mass.
Why see classic works of art when you could see…bad art? Admittedly, the premise of the Somerville, Mass., museum seems a bit thin. That is, until you dissect exactly makes these works so horrendous. From clueless renderings of famous pieces, to awkward sculptures, to whatever that image is above, it’s all about misguided passion. Hey, at least these sincere artists get an A for effort.
16. Le Musée des Vampires, Les Lilas, France
Vampires aren’t supposed to sparkle. Thankfully, you won’t find any lovesick members of the undead at Le Musée des Vampires, located just outside of Paris. What you will find is a study of vampires’ place in culture, past and present. There’s also a significant helping of additional weirdness. Marvel at the autographs of every actor who’s ever starred as Dracula, a mummified cat from Paris’ famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, and a vampire painting by famous French murder Nicolas Claux. Be advised: You must make an appointment in order to visit.
17. Museum of Food Anomalies, online
Get cultured without having to leave home. (If it’s got the word “museum” in the title it has to be educational, right?) The website bills itself as a place that “exposes horrific aberrations of nature with photographs depicting common food items that have distorted into something more sinister than words can describe.” Maybe we’re jaded, but it seems awesome to find a smiling face in your food. A sweet, innocent face…that we were about to ruthlessly eat…oh god. Make the terror stop.
18. Museum of Mathematics, New York, N.Y.
Even if you regularly have stress dreams about high school algebra class, you’ll find something to like about New York’s Museum of Mathematics. Ride a functional bike with square wheels, work through a few brainteasers, and gape at the fractal tree. This is math in motion. Best of all, you don’t have to be Isaac Newton to appreciate it all — each of the exhibits come with simple and advanced explanations.
19. Museum of Enduring Beauty, Malacca, Malaysia
Hair extensions, eyelash curlers, and Botox? Please, you’ve got nothing on neck stretching, lip disking, or feet binding. All these and more are on display at the Museum of Enduring Beauty. Proof positive that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
20. Gelato Museum, Emilia Bologna, Italy
What to know more about the creamy treat? The Gelato Museum in Anzola dell’Emilia (just outside of Bologna) will make you scream for (Italian) ice cream. See what gelato meant to the Egyptians, the Romans, and during the Middle Ages, and learn the secrets to making a successful batch. Then decide what it means to you thanks to the gelato shop located right outside the museum. How do you say “I want to go to there” in Italian?
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