15 Great Oddball Museums

July 30, 2009

We love finding strange museums in our travels around the country, and we have discovered some real finds as we explore this great land of ours. Here are fifteen of my favorites, in no particular order.

Mustard Museum; Mount Horeb, Wisconsin – You can learn everything you ever wanted to know, and some things you never thought to ask about mustard, at this fun and quirky museum, which has it’s very own college called, what else, Poupon U!

Spam Museum; Austin, Minnesota – No, not that aggravating e-mail, we’re talking the original Spam, the meat that won World War II. Find out the history of this canned meat product, and the contributions the Hormel Company made to our nation during the war effort.

World’s Smallest Museum; Superior, Arizona – At just 143 square feet, smaller than your average motorhome, this museum has an amazing amount of stuff crammed inside, from Indian pottery to antique cameras to mining artifacts.

Tow Truck Museum; Chattanooga, Tennessee – At the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum you will find a fascinating collection of restored antique wreckers and equipment.

Marsh’s Free Museum; Long Beach, Washington – You’re guaranteed to have fun here as you see everything from shrunken heads to dinosaur dung, and even a two headed calf! And don’t forget Jake, the Alligator Man!

Mid-America Windmill Museum; Kendallville, Indiana – You will find over 50 historic windmills on display at this interesting small outdoor museum.

Music House Museum; Acme, Michigan – This interesting museum near Traverse City is home to the world’s largest collection of mechanical musical devices.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum; Farmington Hills, Michigan – This fun museum is home to a fun and funky collection of everything mechanical, from historical and modern arcade machines, sideshow wonders and curiosities to carousels, posters, coin operated kiddie rides and much more.

Leila’s Hair Museum; Independence, Missouri – And you thought hair was just for brushing! Leila’s Hair Museum displays over 150 wreaths and more than 2,000 pieces of jewelry containing, or made of, human hair, dating before 1900.

Heaton-Bowman-Smith Funeral Museum; St. Joseph, Missouri – The wicker basket that carried the body of Jesse James from his house to the funeral parlor in 1882 is among the unusual collection of funeral industry artifacts displayed at this unique museum.

National Bird Dog Museum; Grand Junction, Tennessee – You can see displays of art, photography and memorabilia reflecting a variety of pointing dog and retriever breeds, hunting, field trial activities, and shooting sports covering more than 100 years of sporting tradition at this small town museum.

International Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame and Museum; Jackson, Tennessee – Dedicated to preserving and promoting Rockabilly Music, this museum’s displays recognize the pioneers of Rockabilly music with stage costumes, instruments, and memorabilia.

National Watch and Clock Museum; Columbia, Pennsylvania – You’ll find everything from sundials and ancient Egyptian hourglasses to ultra-modern atomic clocks that can measure time in nanoseconds at this surprisingly interesting museum.

Easton Museum of Pez Dispensers; Easton, Pennsylvania – This small museum displays an amazing collection of the candy dispensers loved by kids and collectors alike.

Bead Museum; Glendale, Arizona – The Bead Museum tells the story of beads, which have been used as currency, jewelry, and in religious rituals dating as far back as 30,000 B.C.

These are just some of the fun and interesting museums waiting to be discovered in every corner of America. Post a comment below and tell me about some of your favorite oddball museums.

Nick Russell www.gypsyjournal.net

Leave a Reply

110 comments

  1. Tom Duncan

    How about The Museum Of Science & Industrie in Chicago Ill. You need a couple days to go through it.
    The NAval Museum in Pennsacola FL.
    The Air Force Museum in Warner Robins GA.
    The 8th Air force Museum in SAvannah GA.
    These are all great museum to visit.

  2. David

    I really enjoy these types of unusual places too. There is one in DeKalb Illinois called The Ellwood House and Museum which is the house that a guy named Isaac Ellwood lived in and is also the inventor of barbed Wire. Actually an interesting place, but still very obscure! here’s the website: http://www.ellwoodhouse.org/barb_wire/

    David

  3. Vegasdan

    We just went through the Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV. Not exactly a “museum” but it is the world’s largest cut stone building in the world, the second largest is the Kremlin. It was constructed in the 1800’s by Irish stone masons. The impressive castle like structure is 4 stories high by 1/4 mile long. The tours are very interesting and include ghost stories.

  4. Vegasdan

    We also toured the glass museum in Weston. If you are into glass this is a free museum and worth your time.

  5. San Antonio Texas boasts the Buckhorn Hall of Horns Museum which as it’s name suggests is full of assorted animal horns and a variety of things made out of them. In addition it is home to a plethora of oddities like two headed animals (stuffed) and other one of a kind showpieces. It’s in the heart of downtown and famous in its own right. Read some about it here:
    http://hiddenvalleyrv.blogspot.com/search/label/buckhorn%20saloon
    Our city is also home to the worlds only (as far as I know) toilet seat museum. This gentleman, Barney Smith, has and continues to design toilet seats and has some pretty custom pieces in his back yard shop museum. Read about his place & view some of his work at this link:
    http://hiddenvalleyrv.blogspot.com/2006/11/appetite-for-unusual_11.html

  6. Mike

    There’s also a Museum of Pez in Burlingame, CA (just south of san francisco)

  7. Panda

    Another oddball museum is the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. See the website at http://www.stjosephmuseum.org/ for more information. It’s near the Pony Express Museum, a not so oddball, yet great place to stop! Next year they’re having the Sesquicentenntial Celebration in April. Drop by if you have a chance! http://www.ponyexpress.org/

  8. Thomas Becher

    The mustard museum in Mt Horeb Will close this weekend It’s moving to another city nearby I guess so no more parades either.

  9. A really interesting museum is The Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska. You can’t imagine how many different kinds of hammers there are.

  10. Norman Severin

    There is a camper museum in Elkart, Indiana that has many OLD campers.

  11. Ham Radio

    The Route 66 Museum in Barstow, CA is located in the rear of the historic Harvey House (Casa Del Desierto) adjacent to the railroad tracks. Open weekends only (staffed by volunteers), admission is FREE. Gift items available. Easy to find off I-15, just exit in downtown Barstow and follow the historical marker signs off the highway. Easy parking and well worth your time.

  12. Pat McKenney

    A museum that is concidered by many as the smithsonian of Central U.S. is the Ralph Foster Museum At the college of the Ozarks. Located at Point Lookout Missouri Just south of Branson. It is a really fascinating museum with all types of exibits. web site, http://www.cofo.edu.

  13. The Potato Museum in Blackfoot Idaho is a fun one. An autographed potato by none other than Dan Quayle! Also the potato sack dress modeled by Marilyn Monroe I think it was. Fun place and learn all you would want to know about spuds!

  14. Karen

    Our favorite oddball museum is The House on a Rock in Spring Green , WI. There’s no adequate to describe this place. It took us 5 hours to go through it. An amazing collection of everything and anything!

    Prince Edward Island , Canada has many small unique museums. We especially like the Potato Museum and the Irish Moss (seaweed) Museum.

  15. Wayne

    We loved the National Cowboy & National Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Ok
    1700 NE 63rd St
    We spent 6 hours there and our bodies gave out before our interest.

  16. sherry

    We have been to many of museums listed in the article & in the comments. Our favorites were the tow truck musum & lunatic asylum. We are just finishing up a stay in Chicago area & love the museums there but they are not camper friendly We stay at the Indiana Dunes State Park & take the South Shore train into the City & public transportation to the museums. Car parking alone at the Museum of Science & Industry is 16 dollars.

  17. Judy

    A great addition to your list of oddball museums: The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. It’s full of medical oddities including a tumor removed from Grover Cleveland’s jaw, a collection of objects that people swallowed, and a giant colon. Talk about weird!

  18. PATRICIA MOORE

    A great small museum is the Phosphate Museum in Mulberry FL. Besides exhibits on Phosphate there is a room of fossils(what phosphate is) containing a saber tooth tiger, whales, etc and you can touch them!

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