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Sweatpants & Sanity | Fantasy Break: Museums of the Weird

By Emily Parker

It’s always fun to visit a museum. I have a serious love for old furniture, so I’m as at-home in most ordinary antique stores as I am in a museum; plus you can bring home lucky finds for yourself! There are a number of museums, however, that are dedicated to things that are less run-of-the-mill than nifty old household goods. On today’s Fantasy Break, we’re looking at five of the many museums around the world that are home to more of the unusual collections you can imagine. Enjoy, and vote for the one you’d most like to visit in our poll!

The Icelandic Phallological Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland

The “Penis Museum” houses the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts. The collection of 280 specimens from 93 species of animals includes 55 penises taken from whales, 36 from seals and 118 from land mammals, allegedly including Huldufólk (Icelandic elves) and trolls. In July 2011, the museum obtained its first human penis, one of four promised by would-be donors. Its detachment from the donor’s body did not go according to plan and it was reduced to a greyish-brown shriveled mass that was pickled in a jar of formalin. The museum continues to search for “a younger and a bigger and better one.” (Source: Wikipedia.) So, if you were trying to figure out what happens to your penis after you die, there’s an idea! Seriously, though – this museum may seem a little beyond the pale, but where else are you going to see elf and troll penises? Nowhere, that’s where. They even have a souvenir shop (yikes!) Open daily, admission around $14 USD. Learn more here.

The Museum of Death, Hollywood, California & New Orleans, Louisiana

With a stated goal of “making people happy to be alive”, the Museum of Death is more than a little grim. The Hollywood location was founded in 1995, and because they have more grisly artifacts than their location can hold, they opened the New Orleans location in 2014. It started with letters and artwork from serial killers and grew from there. Now, it includes a little of everything – ancient implements of torture, taxidermy, crime scene photos, recreations of famous deaths, mortician and autopsy equipment, the preserved guillotined severed head belonging to Blue Beard of Paris (Henri Landru); even Thanatron, one of the actual suicide machines created by Jack Kevorkian. It also boasts the world’s largest collection of artwork by serial killers. The self-guided tour lasts an average of 45 minutes, but those who can stomach it are welcome to stay as long as they like. It should go without saying that this one is for mature adults only – I’ve spared readers the pictures of their gorier exhibits. Open daily, admission $15 USD. Learn more here.

The Bunny Museum, Altadena, California

Billed as “The Hoppiest Place in the World”, the Bunny Museum boasts more than 11,000 stuffed bunnies of all kinds, shapes, and sizes, and more than 34,000 “bunny artifacts.” They even have a collection of real bunnies to pet, and a few house cats. Described as “eclectic and bizarre”, The museum has held the world record for “owning the most bunny items in the world” since 1999 when it was acknowledged by the Guinness World Records. At that point in time, it housed 8,473 pieces of bunny memorabilia. Open daily, admission $8 USD. Learn more here.

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), Boston, Massachusetts

“Celebrating failure since 1993”, the MOBA is designed to celebrate artists whose art would otherwise never be celebrated. MOBA was founded in 1994, after antique dealer Scott Wilson showed a painting he had recovered from the trash to some friends, who suggested starting a collection. Within a year, receptions held in Wilson’s friends’ home were so well-attended that the collection needed its own viewing space. (Source: Wikipedia.) Now, the collection boasts more than 600 pieces of terrible art, in a rotating display of 60-70 at a time. Criticized as making fun or being anti-art, Wilson argues that the point is very much pro-art; celebrating the sincerity and perseverance of artists who lack talent. Open weekdays, free admission. Learn more here.

The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, Delhi, India

The museum, established in 1992, has exhibits from 50 countries, arranged sequentially in three sections of “Ancient, Medieval and Modern”, according to the period of the sanitation artifacts collected from 3000 BC till the end of the 20th century. The museum’s exhibits bring out the development of the toilet related technology of the entire gamut of human history, social habits, etiquette specific to existing sanitary situation and the legal framework in different periods. The items on display not only include privies, chamber pots, decorated Victorian toilet seats, toilet furniture, bidets and water closets in vogue since from 1145 AD to date. Display boards have poetry related to the toilet and its use. Toilet poetry? Oh, boy! (Source: Wikipedia.) Open daily, free admission. Learn more here.

Emily Parker is a musician, writer, and avid reader who started Bucket List Book Reviews, the ‘1,001 Books to Read Before You Die’ project. For Sweatpants & Coffee, Emily hopes to inspire the reading of the classics by a whole new audience by only reviewing the really good stuff.

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