Each time we travel, there will be stuff we are absolutely going to see and others that we will have to ignore. That’s all fine, but seldom do we acknowledge that suggestions, reviews and the popularity some particular spots enjoy, often lead our choices, regardless of interest and personal taste.
Especially when it comes to museums, in the attempt to see the highlights we succumb to our fear of missing out, often resigning our real desires and needs. Maybe that’s why we might find ourselves queuing for a newly-opened contemporary art institution we probably don’t care about, all the while ignoring that little gem which is just a few blocks away and would surely make our day.
In every city you visit, always remember to look for smaller and specifically-focused museums that you’re unlikely to find in any other place. As for me, I especially take pleasure in the quirky ones that stand out from the crowd for their oddity and peculiarity. To me, whether dedicated to an infamous historical local celeb, or bearing a very distinguishing (generally dark) concept underlying their creation, those off-the-beaten-path, special collections always make for an unforgettable ‘edutainment’ experience.
For all of you tired of being trodden by hordes of crazed visitors and willing to join the quirky, unusual side of culture: here’s a top-10 list of the extravagant spots picked from the suggestions of our zealous Spotters. Randomly starting with…
Re-elaborated and re-invented objects from the fields of sports, medicine, construction and so forth, constitute the collection of possibly one of Berlin’s most unsettling museums. Its owner and creator Vlad will probably welcome you at the entrance, eager to guide you and illustrate any single oddity that sprang from his twisted, creative mind. The back room hosts Vlad’s personal photo gallery, a further occasion for a journey into his amazingly surreal world.
The closest place to a mad scientist’s lair you can find in London. The Hunterian Museum is hosted in the Royal College of Surgeons. Named after distinguished Scottish surgeon John Hunter, whose collection formed the original core of the current museum, it displays a ridiculous amount of human and animal anatomical specimens from the 18th century onwards, including the 231 cm-tall skeleton of the “Irish Giant” Charles Byne, human fetuses, century-old surgical instruments and Winston Churchill’s dentures.
Enough with the stereotype of Rome as a city of Ancient Roman and Baroque wonders; venture into the only Italian museum dedicated to arcade video games. While one section is dedicated to the history of video games, the other requires you to go back to your teenage years and brush up on your video gaming skills. From old classics to more recent releases, the consoles are at your disposal – no additional cost, no time limits.
“Crime doesn’t pay” is the sentence that could better summarize the concept of the Crime and Punishment Museum of Washington. Opened in 2008, the museum aims at showing its guests the Nation’s history of crime and its consequences, crime scene investigations and so forth. Among its attractions figure an interactive CSI Lab, FBI agent training, authentic artifacts and “America’s Most Wanted” stage set.
Also called Tomba Emmanuelle, this church-shaped structure is the final resting place of Norwegian artist Emanuel Vigeland. The most striking feature of the building is the sharp contrast between the simplicity of its windowless external walls and the richly decorated interior. As you cross the threshold of the only, small entrance, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a set visionary frescos, depicting life from birth to death, covering the whole surface of the walls and the vault. As you leave the mausoleum, you’ll have to bow to pass through the door upon which the ashes of the artist are placed.
Why be happy with a shop when you can get much more out of it? When Jim had to move Pulp68 from its previous location, he found an empty police station in Vernier and turned a part of it into a museum. You might not have enough space in your suitcase for a new skateboard, but its collection of skateboards (dating as far back as the 1950s) and 1980s memorabilia is well worth a detour.
How to surprise your child when in Athens? Take them to see the IT devices you used up until not that long ago. For all intents and purposes, the Hellenic IT Museum is an archaeological museum for computers and gadgets from the 70s onwards. The first one of its kind in Greece, the museum willingly accepts your electronic relics, that will become part of their permanent collection. In case you’re interested in a visit, keep in mind that it opens upon request and it’s a tour-only museum.
Pediophobics, steer clear of this museum or just be ready to face your greatest nightmare. St. Catherine’s Passage is a much frequented location in Tallinn, but most people are unaware that one of its buildings – the House of Mauritius, arguably the oldest building in the entire town – is home to a small, queer doll collection. Each one of the dolls on display is different from the next, and all of them bear the signature of world-famous doll makers.
It kicked off as a travelling exhibit, but quickly became a permanent collection as people started to donate all those objects they wanted to get rid of. They seem to bear no relation to each other, but there’s a common thread: they all are items exchanged between partners whose relationship didn’t see an happy ending. The Museum of Broken Relationships might look like a randomly assembled bunch of emotional memories – or a starting point for contemplating the several ways in which people deal with heartbreak.
From the mind of a German guy who wanted to experience how his blind wife lived her everyday life, the Invisible Exhibition reverts the roles. The seeing become the blind, led through a journey winding through seven rooms by the blind, whom in this case are the ones who see. Wrapped in total darkness, the visitors have to rely on every other sense but sight, while the guides are the ones who can orient. Additionally, the organizers also offer two new programs: the Invisible Dinner and the Invisible Massage.
What’s your favorite quirky museum?