This blog post was updated on May 1, 2023.
Travel and tourism is the perfect activity 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 there are also museums that offer quirky — even bizarre — experiences that are far more specific in nature.
So if you’re a museophile, check out these 10 offbeat and interesting international museums.
The Museum of Bread Culture — Ebergötzen, GermanyBread has been around for over 6,000 years, so naturally there’s a lot to discover about bread and its history. The Museum of Bread Culture, located in Ulm, Germany, is devoted to this cause. You’ll find more than 18,000 exhibits showcasing the history of bread, ancient artifacts from bakeries going as far back as the Stone Age, and pieces of art with bread as the star.
When you’re planning your itinerary and booking your international flights, be sure to leave time to tour the two mills located onsite. You’ll also want to leave enough time to check out the live gardens. Plan to grab a bread-centric meal after your visit as you’ll surely be craving the carbs. In addition to the Museum of Bread Culture’s fun and educational displays, the staff also takes time to raise awareness about food shortages across the planet.
International UFO Museum — Roswell, New MexicoTravelers interested in UFOs or UFO culture 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 about various alleged UFO sightings, including the hotly debated flying-saucer crash in Roswell in 1947. You’ll enjoy exhibits regarding the alleged government cover-up and plenty of other information on extraterrestrials and their spacecraft.
Center for Wooden Boats — SeattleLake Union, located just north of downtown Seattle, is definitely worth a visit as it’s filled with boats and water-related vehicles of all kinds, including residential houseboats and seaplanes. 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 center hosts workshops and community programs that teach about maritime culture, boat preservation, and sailing on the lake. For those who would rather stay on dry land, there’s a small terrestrial boating museum with historic vessels and paraphernalia.
The Underwater Museum of Art — Cancún
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 the coast of southeast Mexico. Scuba diving culture has always big in the region, which is why Cancun is always packed with enthusiasts of the sport. This museum lets people combine their passion for the sea with some art appreciation and 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. You’ll enjoy seeing approximately 500 sculptures spread out over three different underwater galleries. You’ll find the museum located at the Cancún National Marine Park.
International Cryptozoology Museum — Portland, MaineThis 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. The International Cryptozoology Museum features myriad exhibitions that highlight rare and unusual animal specimens. The museum staff is dedicated to teaching people more about cryptozoology and 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 won’t be able to miss the museum once you see the nine-foot Bigfoot welcoming you out front.
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Funeral Museum — ViennaThe 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 Viennese 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 baring the municipality of Vienna.
While you explore, visit 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.
Torture Museum — Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s Torture Museum is certainly not for the faint of heart. This museum is located near the colorful flower market that overlooks the famous Singel Canal. It’s also one of more than 50 museums in Amsterdam. The museum staff will guide you through a series of small and dark rooms, each 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 include a guillotine, thumb screws, and an iron maiden. Creepy!
CupNoodles Instant Ramen Museum — Yokohama, JapanYou’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t indulged in a steaming bowl of ramen. The CupNoodles Instant Ramen Museum honors the inventor of the famous instant ramen product, Momofuku Ando. You’ll first notice Ando’s presence when you see his statue atop a giant stone cup of the ramen.
You’ll also get to spend time in the museum’s kitchen, making your own ramen meal. Create your own unique flavor of ramen or spend time browsing many different types of instant noodle products. You’ll certainly gain a new appreciation for instant ramen after visiting this quirky museum.
Museum of Bad Art — BostonThe Museum of Bad Art is as curious as it sounds. With over 600 pieces of art, this museum boasts a vast collection of art that’s so bad that you have to see it to believe it. The museum is not afraid to poke fun at itself, including its location in a dank basement in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Be sure to note that the Museum of Bad Art is always accepting new donations, meaning that maybe your creations could one day be on display. But the museum doesn’t take just any old kitsch or items that are intentionally bad. No, for accession to the MoBA, a piece needs to a have a certain special awfulness all its own.
Part of the fun of a visit to the Museum of Bad Art is reading the descriptions of the many pieces on display. With a small price of admission, you have nothing to lose by visiting this venue.
Le Musée des Vampires — Les Lilas, France
Indulge your fascination of vampires with a visit to Le Musée des Vampires. The museums is located just outside of Paris, France in the suburb of Les Lilas. Rather than looking at the glorified Hollywood version of vampires, this museum explores the history of these creatures as well as their cultural contributions over the years.
Visitors can check out every autograph of the actors who’ve portrayed Dracula on film, view famous vampire artwork, and more. Fittingly, the museum is tucked inside of an old house that is allegedly haunted. Keep in mind that you’ll need an appointment to visit this museum, so make sure to plan ahead.
Have you visited any quirky international museums that you think belong on our list? Let us know in the comments section below!