If you love to museum hop and have visited the museums in your city five times over, look no further for inspiration on where to go. Get ready to go globetrotting because our comprehensive list of the most unusual museums covers all corners of the world, from New York to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Whether you’re interested in medieval torture instruments or ancient Greek mythology, these incredible establishments are all well worth the trip.
Bran Castle, Romania
If you’re curious about where the famous Count Dracula lived, check out Bran Castle, a Transylvanian gothic masterpiece, which was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s castle in Dracula. Tight winding stairways lead through 60 wooden rooms, many connected by underground passages, which hold collections of furniture, weapons and armor dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries. The castle overlooks a scenic view of the village of Bran. The Bran Castle has been standing since the 1200s, has been used as a fortress during the medieval era and was home to the Romanian royal family in the 1920s.
Lost Atlantis Experience Museum, Greece
The most famous utopian, mythological island of all times is now explorable thanks to the Lost Atlantis Experience Museum. The first museum in the world dedicated to the legend of the lost city of Atlantis is located in the place where the myth originally began — Santorini, Greece. This museum offers a 9D experience, a 3D hologram of the lost city, lessons on the myth of Atlantis and how it is connected to Santorini. Experience the destruction and multiple digital installations during your next trip to Greece. The museum’s purpose is to promote and teach its visitors about Greek heritage, culture and mythology.
Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, England
If you have a fascination with magic and witchcraft, head over to the country we all seem to associate it with, the UK, and check out the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (MWM). This museum has over 3,000 of the oldest artifacts related to witchcraft, magic and the occult, and is located in the picturesque village of Boscastle, Cornwall. MWM explores the history of magical practice in Great Britain, from ancient times to the present day. Their exhibitions explore the insights of magical practitioners and draw a comparison between other systems of belief as well. This quaint establishment has numerous collections of charms, curses, herbs, healing and sea witchcraft, as well as an extensive library with over 7,000 books and an archive of official documents.
Museum of Bad Art, Massachusetts
The Museum of Bad Art is dedicated to collecting quite literally, ugly works of art. Ever seen art that’s just too bad to ignore? This museum displays art that you can’t peel your eyes off of. Originally opened in Dedham, Massachusetts, it currently has branches in Somerville, Brookline and South Weymouth. It was founded in 1994 after Scott Wilson plucked a painting from the trash and got the idea to display art that’s “too bad to be ignored.” The works displayed are all original and have a serious intent, but somewhere along the way developed significant and unique flaws. MOBA’s dedicated to gloriously celebrating an artist’s right to fail. Although it’s temporarily closed due to renovations, the Museum patiently awaits for your judicious eye! Their website offers an online tour of their collection.
Messner Mountain Museum, Italy
Located in the mountains of Italy, Messner Mountain Museum is a museum project created by Italian mountaineer and extreme climber Reinhold Messner in South Tyrol, northern Italy. Messner’s project is designed to educate visitors on the history of mountaineering, mythical mountains and the history of mountain people. The six branches of the project span across northeast Italy and include Corones, Firmian, Dolomites, Juval, Ripa and Ortles. Each branch is located in a different location and has a specific theme in its museum. For example, the MMM Ortles is an underground structure at 1900 meters above sea-level and is devoted to the world of ice, called “At the end of the world”. It houses the world’s biggest collection of Ortler paintings as well as ice-climbing gear from the past two centuries. Visitors are literally inside the mountain and can learn about the Arctic and Antarctic, the power of avalanches, and the pains taken by artists to depict the world of ice.
Gold Museum, Colombia
This magic treasure center, the Gold Museum, is one of Colombia’s biggest highlights and is Bogotá’s most visited museum. The Museo del Oro contains over 55,000 pieces of gold and other material from a wide range of Colombia’s pre-colonization cultures and spans throughout three floors in thematic rooms in the building. Among the pieces are collections of gold mixed-animal figures and exhibits that explain the role of gold in ceremonies and rituals. Entry to the museum is free on Sundays, so expect a large crowd if you go during that day of the week.
District Six Museum, South Africa
District Six is a former residential area in Cape Town, South Africa where over 60,000 people got forcibly removed during the 1970s, when apartheid was still implemented. The museum, which has been up and running since 1994, is a living memorial of the area and has the goal of reaffirming the black South African identity, celebrating the heritage of the people of South Africa and confronting their difficult history. The museum contains multiple exhibitions with work compiled from visual and conceptual artists, sculptors, painters, musicians, curators, teachers, academics and the youth. It also has a permanent, rich visual experience that documents what it was like to live in District Six during that time period. This memorial offers maps, photographs and other remembrances of this once-vibrant neighborhood. They also offer site walks and tours with precious residents of District Six.
Schwules Museum, Germany
Schwules Museum, which is the world’s first museum dedicated to gay history, is located right in Berlin, Germany. This jewel of a museum, founded in 1985, is one of the world’s biggest institutions for researching, conserving and liaising the history and culture of queer communities. It holds items from as far back in gay history as 1896 and contains an assemblage of photographs, films, sound recordings, autographs, artworks and memorabilia. The museum’s extensive library holds around 20,000 books on homosexuality and is used by universities, museums and researchers from all over the world. Presently, not only does it present gay, but also lesbian, trans, bisexual and queer life stories. It’s a unique place that displays the diverse art, culture and history of the LGBTQ+ communities.
Torture Museum, Netherlands
If you’re a fan of history, then you’ll definitely be interested in the Torture Museum. Located right in the heart of Amsterdam, this small museum transports you to the medieval world of human torture and lets its visitors discover the painful past of torture methods. The international exhibition “Punishments and Verdicts in the Middle Ages” displays over 40 instruments of punishment from various parts of Europe, from the inquisition chair to the guillotine, and other devices that we’ve read about our entire lives. They all provide historical background information in eight languages.
Cancun Underwater Contemporary Art Museum, Mexico
Cancun Underwater Contemporary Art Museum (MUSA) is one of the most popular contemporary art museums in the city. Grab your diving gear, since this museum is at the bottom of the ocean. MUSA offers museum tours for both certified and not certified divers to view over 500 permanent sculptures in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. Visitors have the option to view the art via glass-bottomed boat tours, snorkeling and diving routes. The museum’s goal is to display the interaction between art and science and provide a reef structure for marine life. The sculptures are all made from special materials that promote coral life.
Museum of Food and Drink, New York
Featuring edible & aromatic exhibits, the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) provides education on food & drink. This museum is located in Brooklyn and is on the way to be the world’s premier food museum and a global educational resource that encourages generations of inquisitive eaters of all ages and backgrounds. The MOFAD Lab, which is a 5,000 square foot space is the home of Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant, its current exhibition. Stroll through this establishment and discover why food is so important in culture, society and even personal relationships. The museum believes that the best way to learn about food is through tasting, smelling and thinking. Make sure you come here openminded and hungry!
Chichu Art Museum, Japan
If you love Claude Monet, you will love this (literal) hidden gem called The Chichu Art Museum. This art museum is built directly into a southern portion of the Naoshima island in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. The museum was built to preserve the beautiful natural scenery of the Seto Inland sea. Artworks by Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria are on permanent display, with an outdoor garden consisting of nearly 200 kinds of flowers and trees similar to those planted at Giverny by Claude Monet and is dedicated to recreating Monet’s view when painting water lilies. They also make sell original cookies and jam based on the recipes Monet left behind. Beyond the museum and outdoor garden, the museum’s cafe is a sight to see in itself—overlooking the picturesque scenery of the Inland Sea. The museum itself can be viewed as a very large site-specific artwork.
Mütter Museum, Pennsylvania
The Mütter Museum, a world-renowned wonderland of human weirdness, is located in Philadelphia and is filled with anatomical oddities, pathological specimens, and human curiosities. The Mütter Museum‘s purpose is to educate its visitors about the mysteries and beauty of the human body and appreciate the history of medicine and disease. Inside this museum, you can find exhibits of original wet specimens from the early 19th century, skeletal specimens, models and vintage instruments. You can also find Albert Einstein’s preserved brain, President Grover Cleveland’s jaw tumor and other grotesque but intriguing medical oddities.