This blog post was updated on July 14, 2020.
Travel and tourism is the perfect sport for any museophile (yes, it’s a thing). No matter where such people visit, they’re always drawn in by museums that provide a glimpse into the cultural particularities of a certain locale. Sure, world-renowned art or natural history museums are usually well worth the visit, but the museums we remember the most tend to be a bit quirkier and more specific in nature. Here are ten interesting (and certainly unique) museums around the world that are worth checking out.
International UFO Museum and Research Center – Roswell, New Mexico
Travelers interested in UFOs (or the culture that has sprung up around this specialized interest) will find plenty of fascinating information and objects at the UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico. This quirky museum has become famous for its collection of memorabilia from the highly debated flying-saucer crash in Roswell in 1947, exhibits regarding the alleged government cover-up, and plenty of other information on extraterrestrials and their spacecraft.
Center for Wooden Boats – Seattle, Washington
Filled with residential houseboats and seaplanes, Lake Union, located just north of downtown Seattle, is definitely worth a visit. To sweeten the deal, there’s a quirky museum located on the lake’s south shore, the Center for Wooden Boats. Dedicated to experiential learning, the CWB hosts workshops and community programs that allow visitors to learn about maritime culture while engaging in boat preservation and sailing on the lake. For those who would rather stay on dry land, there’s a small boating museum with historic vessels and paraphernalia.
The Underwater Museum of Art – Cancún, Mexico
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Earning a top spot on the list of most quirky international museums is the Underwater Museum of Art, located in the crystal clear waters off of the coast of southeast Mexico. Scuba diving culture has always big in the region and is why flights to Cancún are always packed with enthusiasts for the sport. This museum lets people combine their passions of art and diving to check out masterpieces below the surface of the water. There are a variety of ways that you can check out the sculptures, including glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling, or diving. Visitors will enjoy viewing approximately 500 sculptures spread out over three different galleries. The museum is located at the Cancún National Marine Park.
German Knopfmuseum – Bärnau, Germany
Established in 1975, the delightful and informative German Knopfmuseum chronicles the history of the robust Bärnau button industry, which dates back to 1895. Visitors will be able to see buttons from four centuries made from various materials (including the largest and smallest buttons ever made in this region of Germany), as well as machinery and equipment used in button manufacturing. One of the most beautiful parts of the museum is the room with tapestries made from hundreds of buttons – true works of art!
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International Cryptozoology Museum – Portland, Maine
As one of the most quirky international museums, this bizarre venue deserves your top consideration for a visit when in the New England area. Defined as the study of hidden or unknown animals, cryptozoology naturally piques the interest of many. Dedicated to teaching people more about cryptozoology, the International Cryptozoology Museum features a myriad of exhibitions that highlight rare and unique animal specimens as well as a variety of popular cultural traditions. This museum is conveniently located in the Thompson’s Point area of Portland, only a five-minute walk from the Portland Transportation Center. You cannot miss this museum when you see the nine-foot Bigfoot welcoming you out front.
Funeral Museum – Vienna, Austria
The Funeral Museum boasts over 1,000 exhibits that inform visitors about various funeral customs and burial rites. While the focus of the museum is on the Vienna perspective, the lessons and exhibits encompass the world view of death and the traditions associated with the passing of life. Examples of artifacts at this museum include the invitation to the funeral of Ludwig van Beethoven, a Josephine parish coffin, and an authentic Porter uniform with a coat of arms of the municipality of Vienna. Visitors can explore the listening stations that feature some of the world’s most famous funeral music, including “Ava Maria” and “Time to Say Goodbye.” This museum is appropriately located at the Vienna Central Cemetery.
The Museum of Broken Relationships – Zagreb, Croatia
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The Museum of Broken Relationships explores in great detail the art of human relationships and the heartache of when these relationships come to an end. The exhibits consist of personal objects and momentous that had been left behind by old lovers. An interactive element allows visitors to virtually donate their own documents and experiences. The Croatian museum is located in the stunning baroque Kulmer palace in the historical Upper Town of Zagreb, making it easy to fit this attraction into your travel itinerary. The onsite Brokenships Bistro is a great place to grab a bite to eat and reflect on the moving experiences provided by this unique museum.
Torture Museum – Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam’s Torture Museum is certainly not for the faint of heart. Located near the colorful flower market that overlooks the famous Singel Canel, this museum is one of more than 50 museums in this European gem. Not surprisingly, the museum guides visitors through a series of small and dark rooms. Each of the rooms is home to torture devices, complete with descriptions and accompanying images to enhance your understanding of these elements of torture. Items that you can expect to see when touring the Torture Museum include a guillotine, thumb screws, the flute of shame, and an iron maiden.
Bread Museum – Ebergötzen, Germany
Germany’s Bread Museum is dedicated to documenting the history of breadmaking and its importance to Europe and the entire global market. In addition to a wide array of exhibits and historical artifacts, the museum also offers various demonstrations. The process of grain milling and bread baking is clearly demonstrated at this museum. This venue also features tranquil gardens, a windmill, a watermill, and more. Other highlights include the re-constructed ovens and farm machinery used in the process of making bread. While it may take a little effort to reach this rural museum, it will be worth your time to check it out.
CupNoodles Instant Ramen Museum – Osaka, Japan
It is no surprise that this cult-favorite food has a museum dedicated to its history and importance in Japan. The interactive Instant Ramen Museum is perfect for all ages and interests. Visitors will delight in creating their own original CupNoodles label and soup. The Chicken Ramen Factory exhibit gives you the opportunity to try your hand at kneading and spreading the noodles to put into the soup. A tasting room with unique flavors is also a popular area of this true one-of-a-kind culinary museum. Be sure to visit the gift shop on your way out to pick up the perfect souvenir.
Have you visited any quirky museums on your travels that you think belong on our list? Let us know in the comments section below!