If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that none of us are alone in our interests.
Even if they seem idiosyncratic, chances are someone has been fascinated enough to collect them into a musem-worthy display. These 15 museums, including one dedicated to Bigfoot, prove there’s truly no limit to the human imagination and that whatever your interest, there’s a place for you in the world.
International Spy Museum
Although it may sound like a destination for conspiracy theorists, the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., deals in fact: the history of intelligence and espionage as told through individual stories, artifacts, and, should you choose to accept your mission, interactive exhibits. Of course, as the exciting world of spydom has captured the public imagination, fictional stories are highlighted as well, like an exhibit of 50 years of James Bond villains, featuring props used from the films and exploration of the evil plots to take down humanity.
Museum of Bad Art
Art is subjective, sure, but this community-run museum cherishes all the (mal)forms, displaying it across three locations in Massachusetts — two fittingly outside of theater bathrooms. The inaugural piece, “Lucy in the Sky with Flowers,” was discovered in the garbage. You can also see the collection online, meticulously detailed with descriptions and helpfully separated into categories like portraiture, landscape, “noods” (nudes) and the more obscure “blue people.”
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Twine Ball Museum
Less of a museum and more of a ball of twine made by one man measuring 40 feet in circumference and weighing 17,400 pounds, this massive attraction grew out of the daily labor one man, Francis A. Johnson of Darwin, Minnesota, for 23 weeks in 1950. This display of persistence is on view year-round in a glass-walled gazebo for free, but if you can, try to show up on the second Saturday in August when the town celebrates Twine Ball Days.
Museum of the American Gangster
Americans are obsessed with gangster stories, which is evident in this museum, located above a former New York City speakeasy frequented by the likes of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and John Gotti. The two rooms are packed with encyclopedic memorabilia: bullets from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a range of firearms including an actual Tommy gun, and two death masks. See how Prohibition only fostered more new, imaginative crime, or take a tour with stops including a spot where Frank Sinatra once slung drinks. Maybe even down one yourself.
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
In 1958 Momofuku Ando invented the first instant noodles, which he called Chicken Ramen, after a year of researching and tinkering in a shed in his backyard. Today about 100 billion bowls are eaten every year worldwide. This museum in Osaka, Japan, is not only a monument to the noodle and the man, but also to the spirit of invention. You’ll also go get hands-on with experiences like the My Cup Noodles factory, where you can design your own packaging and flavors.
“Please don’t eat the exhibits” reads a sign at this museum dedicated to the eight-decade-old all-American lunchmeat Spam, which itself either represents “Spiced Ham” or “Shoulder of Pork and Ham.” Found in Austin, Minnesota, home to the Spam factory, the 14,000-square-foot museum houses Spam memorabilia and explores its role in culture, including an exhibit focused on Spam’s role in the military during World War II, which elevated the canned meat’s popularity in island nations. Did you know Hawaii consumes more Spam than any other state?
Bigfoot Discovery Project and Museum
In 1967, filmmakers Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin recorded a subject they claimed was a female Sasquatch running through the forests of Oregon. It is the definitive evidence for Bigfoot enthusiasts, so of course an exhibit on the film is a focus of the Bigfoot Museum in Felton, California. The museum is just steps away from Henry Cowell State Park, where there have also been sightings. Alongside local tales and memorabilia like matchbooks and toys, you’ll also find plaster foot and handprints made by the filmmakers and what is allegedly dried droppings from the beast, though we’re not really sure how you would tell.
New York Transit Museum
The largest museum dedicated to urban public transportation is fittingly located in New York, housed in a decommissioned 1936 subway station Brooklyn. Along with exhibits highlighting the past and future of mass transit, visitors can take the helm of a city bus, explore vintage subway cars, and travel through time with the evolution of turnstiles. Also on view are historic signs (like “No Spitting on the Platform”).
For more of the world’s weirdest museums, including a ventriloquist haven in Kentucky, visit Fodor’s.