8 Weird, Wacky and Mildly Disturbing Museum Exhibits

From the "exotic" ephemera of Vancouver's Main Street and bugs dressed in drag to "art too bad to be ignored" and so much freakin more.

Liberoachi, on display at the Cockroach Hall of Fame in Plano, Texas.

Above: Liberoachi on display at the Cockroach Hall of Fame in Plano, Texas.


Museums boring? You’ve just been hitting up the wrong ones. We clap the dust out from some of the craziest museum exhibits from around the world


From mustard and tumours to wrenches and whale phalluses, if it can be preserved, catalogued and hung up, down or sideways, there’s probably a museum or exhibit dedicated to it.


With the recent opening of the SweaterLodge Unlatched exhibit, for which the Museum of Vancouver devoted an entire room to an enormous fleece sweater (really), we wondered what other misfit monuments to cockeyed culture we could dig up.


Here, we look at some of the strangest museums in the world with exhibits so unique you’ll question the limits of human curiosity—from the “exotic” ephemera of Main Street and bugs dressed in drag to “art too bad to be ignored” and so much freakin more.


Exotic world in Vancouver

(Image: Exotic World)


Exotic World

Long-time Vancouverites will remember the Exotic World storefront on Main Street. Dedicated to the world travels of Harold and Barbara Morgan, Exotic World was a DIY museum that occupied the front rooms of Harold’s commercial painting business. Stuffed alligators, maps, postcards and wooden masks were among the memorabilia, along with hundreds of pictures covering the walls and signs encouraging visitors to ask questions of the curators.


As Stephen Osborne wrote in The Tyee, “The museum often seemed to emanate as a hallucination of the pages of National Geographic and Life magazine as I recalled them from my childhood in the ’50s—a world of the distant, the exotic, the hard-to-believe: we are held in a state of wonder persisting outside of time and place, preserved and labelled so that we know how to perceive it, how to preserve the exotic.”


Upon Harold’s death, Barbara put Exotic World up for auction: it is now housed up the street from its old quarters in Alexander Lamb’s antique store.



Icelandic Phallogical Museum

(Image: Icelandic Phallogical Museum)


Icelandic Phallogical Museum

There are at least five sex museums scattered throughout the world, mostly in cosmopolitan cities like New York, Paris, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Shanghai. Iceland’s, however, isn’t devoted to anything as mundane as ancient secrets of the Kama Sutra or Edwardian dildos. Located in Húsavík, the whale-watching capital of Europe, the Icelandic Phallogical Museum’s shelf space is occupied by penis specimens from every land and sea mammal in the country, and a few outsider peni as well.


“it should be noted,” according to the museum website, “that the museum has also been fortunate enough to receive legally certified gift tokens for four specimens belonging to Homo Sapiens.” In addition to these treasures, visitors can view around “300 artistic oddments and other practical utensils related to the museum’s chosen theme.”


Curator/founder Sigurdur Hjartarson is an author and retired teacher. He was inspired to eventually open the museum when, as a child, he was given a bull’s penis as a whip during summer vacations.


Miniature World exhibit in Victoria BC

(Image: Miniature World)


Miniature World

Who among us hasn’t, on a trip to Victoria, BC, passed by Miniature World and thought to themselves, “I really should check that out one day but, uh, right now I really need to take High Tea”?


Miniature World is, true to its name, dedicated to showing us the world in miniature—an ideal salve for even the most hilarious of short man complexes. Displays include mini Frontier Land, mini Fantasy Land, mini Circus World, two of the world’s largest mini dollhouses and one of the world’s largest mini model railways. It might not sound like the most fun you can have in a mini afternoon, even in mini Victoria, but reviews from mini skeptics on mini sites like TripAdvisor are actually pretty positive.


The Mütter Museum

(Image: The Mütter Museum)


The Mütter Museum

A part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Mütter Museum is the final destination for hundreds of real body parts, distended ovaries, two-headed babies, skeletons, tumours, colons, preserved corpses, brains and other medical oddities for purposes of medical research, education and putting your troubles in perspective.


Oversized bags are not allowed in the museum, lest you try to make off with tissue from John Wilkes Booth’s brain.


The National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin

(Image: The National Mustard Museum)


The National Mustard Museum

With so many food museums to choose from—there are museums devoted to noodles, SPAM® and something called currywurst—why choose the National Mustard Museum? Well, why not? After all, mustard is “the king of condiments” according to the museum’s website. To prove it, the downtown Middleton, Wisconsin museum, founded in 1992 by a Wisconsin State assistant attorney general, houses 5,600 examples of mustard and hundreds of items of mustard memorabilia, including vintage ads, antique mustard pots and The Great Wall of Mustard. The National Mustard Museum has been featured on Oprah.


Museum of Bad Art in Boston

(Image: Museum of Bad Art)


The Museum of Bad Art

The only one of its kind in the world—if you don’t count the Emily Carr grad show—Boston’s Museum of Bad Art is dedicated to those works of sincerity, passion and earnestness that nevertheless fall short of any measurable standard of “good.” Thrill to clashing colours, misshapen bodies and paintings of dogs playing poker that look like they might actually have been painted by dogs. The museum’s tagline: “Art too bad to be ignored.”


R-Lucky Star Ranch Farm Museum in Idaho

(Image: R-Lucky Star Ranch Farm Museum)


R-Lucky Star Ranch Farm Museum

“We are always in the market to purchase unusual implement wrenches and cloth sugar sacks,” reads the R-Lucky Star Ranch’s homepage. Really, we’re all lucky.


Situated in a former tractor shed in Marsing, Idaho, the wrench museum holds more than 3,500 wrenches as well as the world’s largest sugar sack collection. Still not sold? What if we told you the goods are categorized according to whether they are “hand-forged,” “”cream separator,” “silo” or “buggy” wrenches? Yes, we thought that might do it.


The Cockroach Hall of Fame and Museum

(Image: The Cockroach Hall of Fame and Museum)


The Cockroach Hall of Fame and Museum

Cockroaches dressed as Elvis, Britney Spears and Liberachi (make that Liberoachi)? As if we needed another reason to visit Plano, Texas. The city is home to the world-infamous Cockroach Hall of Fame, part of a pest-control business called The Pest Shop. The Hall of Fame features posed (dead) cockroaches in dioramas that make the dressed-up roaches look eerily like, well, someone has put tiny little clothes on cockroaches.


As with the Icelandic Phallogical Museum and the Mustard Museum, it all started with a man with a dream: Michael Bohdan began the Cockroach Hall of Fame after gaining notoriety for paying $1,000 for the largest cockroach in Texas. Today, the Cockroach Hall of Fame (free admission) brings in, uhm, many visitors annually, some whom aren’t just stopping in to ask directions to Dallas.


The dioramas are year-round, but if it’s not too cold, Michael will also bring out his four-inch Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

For more weird and wacky fun, check out our sister site Youthink