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Arts + Culture

World’s Weirdest Museums

Who says our top cultural institutions can’t be random, wacky and downright bizarre? Chelsea Bengier rounds up the world’s strangest exhibits, from scary clowns and lawnmowers to toilets (yes, you read that right) and lingerie.

See recent posts by April Ellis

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Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, India

This New Delhi museum is a shrine to the commode, and yes, we're talking about your bathroom seat. Here you'll find 4,500 years of toilet history from humble chamber pots to elaborate Victorian lavatories. And if you want to see more, there's Japan's Toto Toilet Museum, which opened this past September. The Japanese are so invested in their loos that their government even considered promoting them as part of Tokyo's 2020 Olympic Games tourism campaign.

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The Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia

We’re all guilty of having it — that “secret” box in the corner of your closet with your ex’s old sweatshirt, handwritten love notes and photos of you in your happy days together. Now imagine if everyone combined that emotional memorabilia into a gallery...welcome to The Museum of Broken Relationships. Rings, Valentine's Day gifts and even fuzzy pink handcuffs are just a handful of the items on display. And if you're seeking closure (or just want to dump those bad memories), you're in luck — visitors are encouraged to donate personal belongings.

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Photo by Bernhard Friese

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Morbid Anatomy Museum, Brooklyn

If you believe that Halloween can only be celebrated one night a year, think again. At the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn and the Siriraj Medical Museum (also known as the Museum of Death) in India, beware of hemorrhaged brains, mutilated organs and wax bodies. If guts and gore don't scare you, live out your Poltergeist nightmares at the International Clown Hall of Fame in Wisconsin. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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Photo by Keith Wond

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Kansas Barbed Wire Museum

No really, this isn’t a joke. There’s actually an entire museum full of metal fencing. (Only in Kansas, people.) To be exact, 2,400 varieties of barbed wire are displayed alongside the history of midwestern settlers. This is one place we strongly suggest you obey the "do not touch" signs.

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Photo by Ben Gregg

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Museum of Bad Art, Massachusetts

Why should Renaissance masters like da Vinci and contemporary artists like Jeff Koons get all the glory? In Dedham, Massachusetts, the Museum of Bad Art showcases 600 not-so-brilliant works ranging from misshapen portraits to obscure landscape drawings. The collection would make mom's kitchen fridge proud.

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Photo courtesy of Iceland Phallological Museum

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Icelandic Phallological Museum

Giggle all you want — this museum doesn't hide from its, ahem, erect subjects. Visitors can see 215 animal private parts, including a massive 67-inch sperm whale organ and a lampshade made out of bull balls. There's even four big human... contributions, if you get what we mean.

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Mmuseumm, New York City

Blink and you might miss this closet-sized menagerie in downtown Manhattan. Its rotating exhibits showcase oddities collected by artists from around the world. Among the highlights: Middle Eastern cheese puffs, Russian watches and New York City tip jars.

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Avanos Hair Museum, Turkey

There’s a secret that lies beneath a Turkish ceramic studio in the small town of Avanos. Clay creations line the walls of its subterranean cave and dangling from the ceiling are… 16,000 locks of hair. The legend goes that a friend left the local potter a snippet of hair to remember her by, and now visitors contribute to the story by adding a few of their own strands, attached to a piece of paper with their name and address. Once a year, ten samples are picked and the women who left them are invited to attend a pottery workshop and stay in the artist’s guest house for free.

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Photo courtesy of International Cryptozoology Museum

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International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine

With TV shows like Finding Bigfoot rising in popularity, it’s no surprise that there's an entire museum dedicated to the study of mystical creatures. What you'll see: mermaid and abominable snowmen specimens, the hairy Yeti beast said to hail from the Himalayas, hair samples and native art. After a tour here, you may just turn into a believer.

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Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Japan

People don’t mess around when it comes to food. Take the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Japan, which has an in-house noodle factory and a floor-to-ceiling hall with hundreds of ramen packets. There's also the Museum of Bread Culture in Germany — a must-see for carb-lovers — as well as Tennessee's Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, a 22,000-piece tribute to America's essential condiments.

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Dog Collar Museum, England

More than 500,000 dog lovers visit the Dog Collar Museum's collection of canine accessories every year. The puppy paraphernalia spans five centuries and is housed in the historic Leeds Castle — it's worth the trip just to see this medieval estate. The main highlight? Fifteenth-century antique collars with spikes to protect man's best friend.

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Photo by Melvyn Cobb

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British Lawnmower Museum, England

This salute to suburbia tracks the history of the iconic garden tool. Look for the world’s first solar-powered robotic grass-chopper as well as the original push-powered mower. There’s also an exhibit on the sport of lawn mower racing and royal lawnmowers (some of which were property of Prince Charles and Princess Diana).

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Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame, LA

Ever wanted to take a peek at Madonna’s brassiere or Forest Gump’s boxers? Frederick’s of Hollywood, the Hollywood Boulevard store that created the push-up bra and thong, has a whole floor dedicated to the more personal possessions of Tinseltown's stars. Browse through undergarments belonging to Pam Anderson, Robert Redford, Cher and the Beverly Hill 90210 cast — we won't judge.

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Photo by N. Frank and courtesy of GRIMMWELT Kassel

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Grimmwelt, The Brothers Grimm Museum, Germany

Opened in early September, this new museum is the latest contribution to the historic town of Kassel, Germany. Explore the archives of the famous literary duo who penned the first German dictionary as well as the iconic fairytale stories Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Snow White. Bonus: The building's rooftop terrace features 360-degree views of Weinberg park and the rolling German countryside.

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