There’s nothing quite like browsing the local museums and art galleries to really get a feel for a city, but throw in a trip around some of the more unusual museums and you’ll be in for a memorable treat!
ABBA the Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
Thanks to the huge popularity of the movie and theatre performance of Mamma Mia, the world’s first ABBA themed museum has just opened in the quartet’s home city of Stockholm. The group are responsible for some of the most infectious hits of all time, including Knowing Me, Knowing You, Dancing Queen and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) – cue much dancing and jiving!
Paris Sewer Museum, Paris, France
When you think you’ve seen all that Paris has to offer, think again! First came the mysterious catacombs and now we have the Sewer Museum, aka Musee Des Egouts De Paris, which has been opening to the public since 1867. Visitors can witness the sewers running beneath the city and find out how the system works. This unusual museum is located in the 7th arrondissement if you’re tempted.
Spam Museum, Austin, Minnesota, USA
The famous precooked meat of Spam is honoured at its very own museum in Austin where the exhibits cover more than 16,000 square feet. Follow the story of spam right from its introduction in 1937, through to the current day. Visitors can also find out how the foodstuff is made, and then try various dishes whipped up in the onsite restaurant. You can even treat yourself to a memento in the gift shop! The Spam Museum was also name checked by Cathy Jamison (played by Laura Linney) in the final series of The Big C!
House of Marbles, Bovey Tracey, Devon, England
Way before the introduction of the ubiquitous Xbox, Gameboy and iPod, games were a more basic affair – think old school board games, puzzles and marbles! And at this working glass and games factory you can witness old toys in all their glory, including chess sets, wooden diabolo and spinning tops. And you can also buy some of the traditional toys and relive your childhood. Don’t miss the dominoes, animal-themed skipping ropes and table football.
Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, Riga, Latvia
If you prefer your museums in 3D, then this one is for you! With a huge variety of traditional Latvian houses and other buildings spread across the 87 hectare site, this is definitely one of the more unusual museums! The 118 structures date from the 17th century right through to the 1930s. It’s also one of the oldest of its type in Europe and is nestled within a forest beside Lake Jugla.
Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi, India
Definitely a contender for the weirdest museum in the world – the Museum of Toilets has a vast collection of exhibits and artefacts dedicated to the humble lavatory. Hope there’s an onsite gift shop as the take-home souvenirs will be awesome!
Cat Museum, Kuching, Malaysia
Not actually as weird as its sounds actually when you consider that the city of Kuching means the ‘Cat City’. And the humble pet is considered a lucky animal. The entrance is via a giant cats head complete with teeth, through to the 2,000 or so exhibits inside. That said it is pretty interesting to learn the role of cats in cultural terms, from the mummified cat found in Egypt, through to the hugely popular ‘Hello Kitty’ culture.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and Tours, London
Since Andy Murray’s awesome win at Wimbledon, the LTA Museum has really grown in popularity, with visitors keen to imbibe the atmosphere. Fans will appreciate the interactive displays and informative films. You can glimpse some of the glittering trophies and browse the historical tennis memorabilia on display which dates back to 1555, including balls, outfits and racquets and balls.
One Direction Museum, Mullingar, Ireland
Yes you read this right – plans are underway to create a One Direction museum, specifically in honour of member Niall Horan in his hometown of Mullingar. The site has already been chosen and is set to open in summer 2014, watch this space…
Barbie Doll Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark
The quirky district of Nørrebro in Copenhagen really lives up to its reputation with the Barbie Doll Museum, with all exhibits dedicated to the blonde bombshell. There are also other bizarre local museums such as the Herman Stilling Museum which is dedicated to the Danish artists’ works involving trolls and gnomes. And the curious Museum of Police History details the downright weird and cunning stories archived from police cases.
UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico
Is the truth really out there? Whether you’re a believer or a sceptic, this museum will equip you with all the facts. The exhibits and memorabilia are sure to cause great debate on the car ride home. Don’t miss the flying-saucer crash exhibit which happened in Roswell in 1947.
British Lawnmower Museum, Southport, England
Can you believe that England has not one, but two museums dedicated to the humble lawnmower?! Lawnmowers were invented in 1830 and the exhibits cover the speediest mowers, those owned by celebrities and the most expensive machines in the world. In fact there are over 250 lawnmowers in display. And in case you wondered, the other museum is at Trerice House in Newquay in Cornwall.
Museum of Bad Art, Massachusetts, USA
Here’s another museum to provoke lively debate – what exactly makes good or, in this case, bad art? This museum actually started out as a private collection and has now swelled to over 500 pieces of ‘bad art’. Make your own mind up.
Comic Strip Museum, Brussels, Belgium
The Belgian Comic Strip Center will interest comic book fans both young and old. Characters such as Asterix, Tintin and The Smurfs call this museum home. The exhibits tell the story of the history of comics and its phenomenal success through the years. There is also a reading room onsite where you can browse your favourite comics and catch up on any issues that you may have missing from your own collection.
The Lunchbox Museum, Columbus, Georgia, USA
Yes you’ve guessed it – this quirky little museum is dedicated to the humble lunchbox. The exhibits feature a vast array of metal lunchboxes and also contains the largest lunchbox in the world.
Image credit: Triceratops CC BY-SA 3.0