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Because you can't spend all day every day journeying around IgoUgo, editors round up the highlights: members' notable trips, newest reviews, favorite destinations, contests, and more. Have a question or idea? Let us know!

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America's 10 Most Unusual Museums

America's 10 Most Unusual Museums Photo

Photo by shepherd333

Posted on March 5, 2012 in Trip Ideas

The United State is home to some of the world’s greatest museums, from the massive Smithsonian Institution, to the storied galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute and the Getty Center. But in the glaring light of so much glory, we too often overlook more hidden gems of modern museum-ing - places like the Burlingame Pez Museum, or the Massachusetts Museum of Bad Art. So take a quick journey with us as we explore America’s 10 Most Unusual Museums.

10.Cook’s Natural Science Museum
Decatur, Alabama

Photo by NiteOwlTX

While a natural science museum does not seem all that strange, this Alabama landmark is dedicated to household pests. The education center can help you identify which pest is infesting your kitchen cabinets, and you can check out the mounted displays to make sure that you are identifying them correctly.

9. The American Visionary Arts Museum
Baltimore, MD

Photo by shepherd333

You can think of this funky, artsy, Pee-Wee-Herman’s-House-esque museum in Baltimore as the anti-Metropolitan Museum of Art. The American Visionary Museum bucks the traditional form of an art museum, dedicating itself solely to the artwork of self-taught artists in all imaginable mediums. Visitors can peruse a collection of more than 4,000 pieces, from tiny works of folk-art to fully bedazzled “art cars”.

8. The Museum of Bad Art
Dedham, MA

This Massachusetts museum’s motto says it simply: “Art too bad to be ignored”. Collections are wide-ranging, representing “the work of talented artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush”, but they all have one special thing in common, a “special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent.” Awful art connoisseurs can feast their eyes on works from categories like “Unlikely Landscapes, Seascapes, and Still Lifes”, “In the Nood”, and “Blue People”. Take it slow and let it all sink in - you won’t see works like this anywhere else (except maybe a garage sale or a landfill).

7. The International Spy Museum
Washington, DC

Photo by JulieHolm

Situated only a few blocks from the storied institutions along the National Mall’s Museum Corridor, The International Spy Museum bills itself as the only museum of its kind in the world. It’s thriving, with 20,000 square feet of space housing over 600 genuine artifacts of the worlds “second oldest trade”. Kids and adults alike will love interactive exhibits like Operation Spy, where you’ll assume the role of an undercover agent and embark on your own, hour-long Hollywood-style spy simulation.

6. The UFO Museum and Research Center
Rosewell, NM

Photo by amyndavid

Situated near the site of the infamous (supposed) 1947 crash of an Unidentified Flying Object, the UFO Museum and Research Center wants visitors to know that it falls very much on the serious side of the Roswell debate. Skeptics and believers have flocked to this desert outpost since it opened in 1996 (capitalizing, we argue, on the massive success of The X-Files), poring over memorabilia from the crash, information about the alleged cover-up and documentation of scores of encounters since.

5. Circus World Museum
Baraboo, WI

Photo by flyingscot4

The winter home of the Ringling Bros. Circus, this big-top museum’s been a big-time destination for circus-loving families since 1959. Visitors can enjoy a variety of Big Top shows, not to mention one of the largest collection of circus artifacts in the world, including 210 original American, English and Irish circus wagons and vehicles, a host of circus adds and posters (over 9500), including the 80-sheet Buffalo Bill Wild West Poster measreing 9 ft. high and 70 ft. long.

4. Mutter Museum
Philadelphia, PA

Photo by zabelle

This infamous Philly institute celebrates the abnormalities of the scientific world. Siamese twins, brains, enlarged sexual organs, and a nine-foot long human colon grace the cabinets of this institution. Included in The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Dr. Thomas Dent Mutter donated the museum for educational purposes in the mid-1800’s. The museum has been the focal point of numerous novels and movies, and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

3. Burlingame Pez Museum
Burlingame, CA

Just a few minutes’ drive from the San Francisco airport is this charmingly odd museum, dedicated to the ubiquitous and lovable character-topped candy dispenser, Pez. Visitors can browse an exhaustive collection of collectible dispensers while learning the history of the tiny candy and its beloved dispenser, then head to the gift shop to start their own collections. Don’t forget to snap a photo with the World’s Largest Pez Dispenser, a snowman that measures in at 7 feet, 10 inches.

2. Devil’s Rope Museum
McLean, TX

Photo by hersplash

Located on the historic Route 66, this museum is entirely dedicated to barbed wire. The museum exhibits how the wire is made and manufactured, and its uses in ranching. The museum also focuses on the general history of fenching, and has exhibits ranging from the Dust Bowl to patent licensing.

1. National Mustard Museum
Middleton, WI

Photo by MarkR37

Middleton’s National Mustard Museum is one of the more unusual museums in the country. Founded by Barry Levensen, former Assistant Attorney General of Wisconsin from a collection he began in 1986, the museum has since blossomed into a collection of more than 5300 mustards from over 60 countries. Displays include hundreds of examples of mustard memorabilia and exhibits about mustard’s role throughout history, not to mention the sweet hot mustards, fruit mustards, hot pepper mustards, horseradish mustards and spirit mustards available for tasting -- and buying -- in the museum’s gift shop.


Posted by jhartmann13 (JJ Hartmann)

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