Tired of seeing fossil fragments, flint arrowheads and other same-ole, same-ole artifacts at generic museums? Consider going off the beaten path this summer by checking out these weird museums in American and Europe. No matter which one you pick, you're bound to have an eye-opening experience.
1. Wisconsin's Mustard Museum
The story of Wisconsin's National Mustard Museum began with tragedy. "I started collecting mustards in October of 1986," Curator Barry Levenson told Travel Annex. "The morning after my beloved Red Sox lost the World Series. I went to an all-night grocery, I walked up and down the aisles depressed. I was crying. I heard a voice coming from the mustards that said, 'If you collect us, they will come.'"
The museum in the Madison suburb of Middleton features over 5,500 different mustards from 80 countries as well as mustard memorabilia like containers and ads. The gift shop also sells about 450 types of mustard, and there's a tasting bar where you can sample the spreads. But don't ask for a side of ketchup, which Levenson calls "that evil red condiment."
Check out this clip of Levenson explaining the museum's origins and offering a tour of the facility.
2. Iceland's Penis Museum
Ever feel like your local museum's collection isn't NSFW enough for you? For travelers interested in risqué galleries, check out the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, which boasts the biggest collection of penises in the world. The 282 specimens on display have been collected from 93 different species, ranging in size from the miniscule hamster to the intimidating blue whale.
Here's a tour with commentary from Dr. Lindsey Doe - a clinical sexologist.
3. Croatia's Museum of Broken Relationships
If you're having trouble getting rid of those mementos of a recent divorce, you're in luck. The curator's of Zagreb, Croatia's Museum of Broken Relationships are looking for donations to their galleries, which feature objects that offer tearjerking as well as side-splitting stories of actual breakups.
The museum was founded by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić who felt inspired to start a collection of break-up relics when their own relationship came to an end in 2006. They hope that the collection will help people find connections with others through the common experience of grief and loss.
Here's a tour of the exhibits courtesy of Zagreb TV.
4. Maine's Cryptozoology Museum
Ever wonder where photos of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster end up? Many are collected by the curators of Portland, Maine's International Cryptozoology Museum. "Cryptozoology" refers to the study of creatures whose existence hasn't been verified yet. So these artifacts might one day prove that Bigfoot is - or at least was - real.
The museum features a sea monster gallery, models of what a baby Yeti might look like (picture Alf mixed with Chewbacca) a letter written by Hollywood star Jimmy Stewart, who once smuggled part of a skeleton allegedly belonging to a Nepalese Yeti. And much more.
For a sneak peak, check out Maine-based NBC reporter Katie Bavoso's interview with Curator Loren Coleman.
5. Missouri's Vacuum Cleaner Museum
Looking for the perfect travel destination for the neat freak in your family? Swing by the small town of Saint James, Missouri and check out the Vacuum Cleaner Museum, which features over 600 machines that are all in working order. So, yes, you could say that every exhibit sucks, and Curator Tom Gasco won't mind.
Here's a virtual tour of the collection: