Las Vegas is now home to the Mob Museum. The cultural ode to organized crime opened its doors on February 14, marking the 83rd anniversary of Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Gang wars erupted in the Illinois state in 1929, leading to the murder of seven mob associates. Now you can learn about it all, up close and personal in Sin City — a place with its own history of mob ties. Exhibits include a revolver found at the site of the famous massacre and the barber chair, in which 1950’s mobster Albert Anastasia was assassinated. In order to keep things accurate, the museum staffs former FBI agents, former police officers, historians, and other experts. The Mob Museum isn’t the only offbeat institution, of course. We’ve found a few other bizarrely fascinating museums around the world that easily rival it. Find out what other exhibition spaces we raised our eyebrows at past the break. Tell us the places you’ve been to below.
Image credit: Leeds Castle
The Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum
Leeds Castle offers visitors gorgeous English grounds to marvel at, but the luxurious looking fortress is also home to a Dog Collar Museum. It started accidentally, you could say, when Gertrude Hunt donated the first few collars in memory of her husband, John Hunt — one of Europe’s finest medievalists. The collection kept building over the years and now boasts more than 100 historical collars for pups.
Vlademar Cher, Sad Teenager
The Museum of Bad Art
Massachusetts is home to The Museum of Bad Art. Some of the artists featured have been inspired by a “unique, possibly extraterrestrial muse,” which is clear from the number of blue-skinned portraits and other strange stuff on display. The curators find the works in places like thrift stores, and other pieces are donated. Here’s what they have to say about the place:
“The pieces in the MOBA collection range from the work of talented artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush. What they all have in common is a special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent.”
Image credit: Dave Thau
The Icelandic Phallological Museum
There’s a museum in Iceland proud of its penises — over 200 of them to be exact. The Icelandic Phallological Museum features almost all of the boy parts belonging to every land and sea mammal found in the country (including a few humans). The one pictured above is apparently from a Merman — that randy mythological figure known to seduce human women and impregnate them.
Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum
The above picture isn’t from the museum’s collection, but it’s exactly what we imagine a visit to any ventriloquist museum to be like. Clearly we never recovered from Richard Attenborough’s Magic, but we’re guessing the Vent Have Museum in Kentucky is a lot less psychotic. It was founded by amateur ventriloquist William Shakespeare Berger and now houses houses over 700 figures, thousands of photographs, and a unique library of books (some dating back to the 1700s). We’ll steer clear of the place during their annual international “ConVENTion,” where over 400 ventriloquists gather to talk shop. (Nightmares!)
The Institute of Illegal Images AKA The LSD Museum
Mark McCloud’s 33,000 plus collection of LSD blotter papers filled with mind-bending art have been the subject of several criminal trials, but McCloud keeps on keepin’ on. The papers date back to the 1960s and are appropriately housed in McCloud’s San Francisco abode. McCloud has also made his own blotters for over 20 years. The museum is private and by appointment only.
Sulabh International Museum of Toilets
The sanitation savvy experts at the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India want to teach you about the evolution of the bowl (dating back to ancient times), revolutionary designs that the porcelain god has seen, and more. The museum’s founder Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak is also a consultant with the with Economic and Social Council of the U.N., a place that probably takes its toilets very seriously.
The Torture Museum
Amsterdam’s Torture Museum provides a real-life horror film experience, introducing the public to a long history of human cruelty. The ominous-sounding museum displays a fascinating, macabre series of instruments like the inquisition chair, hanging cages, guillotines, heretic forks, and other sadistic tools. Sounds charming and just like a visit to the set of Hostel .
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
The kitsch meter is turned to high at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Tennessee, which features over 20,000 sets from around the world and the largest pepper mill collection ever. The museum’s website answers that eternally plaguing question: Which shaker has the most (or least) amount of holes, salt or pepper?
The Bunny Museum
If Elijah Wood’s commercial for The Bunny Museum is any indication of how amazing the cute, cottontail locale is, then we’re buying a ticket to Pasadena immediately. Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski run the “living museum,” which is their home. They invite visitors to check out their 23,000 large bunny collectible collection for free — they just ask that you bring some snacks for their pet rabbits. Everything in their house is bunny themed, right down to the light fixtures and furniture. Since their pets don’t live in cages, expect to see rabbits roaming the joint.
International UFO Museum and Research Center
Mulder and Scully approve of the International UFO Museum in Roswell. Since the New Mexico city is the site of the eerie 1947 crash, it’s probably safe to bet that a trip here will be an authentically alien experience.