World's Wackiest Museums

U.S. News & World Report

World's Wackiest Museums

Somewhere between the Monets and Manets, your eyelids start getting heavy, your feet start getting sore and those comfy gallery couches look more and more appealing for a snooze. Don't get us wrong, there's a reason fine art museums are tourist must-sees, but one can only visit so many national galleries before the paintings start to blend together.

When you yawn at the Sistine Chapel, you know it's time to take a break from the greats. So say ta-ta to the Tates, and screw the Louvre; instead, take the road less traveled, and visit one of the world's seven wackiest museums.

[See a photo recap of the World's Wackiest Museums]

The German Currywurst Museum is definitely the most delectable museum on our list. Right across the street from Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, this tantalizing space is small yet bursting with interactive exhibits focused on Germany's favorite street food. You can "run" your own currywurst snack bar, guess the spices at the sniffing station or sample the pork sausage at the snack lounge.

And though there are many food-themed museums, it's décor that sets the Currywurst apart. There are currywurst-shaped couches scattered throughout the halls, ketchup-drip sculptures hanging from the ceiling and exhibits filled with the alluring aromas of the beloved snack.

Take the plunge into the sewers of Paris, but be sure to pinch your nose before you do. Although most of the city's tour-able tunnels have been emptied of all the previous … deposits, the stench remains. And be forewarned: There are fully operational stretches of this museum filled with the sewage of current day Parisians.

Stench aside, the Paris Sewer Museum is actually quite the historical site. Some portions of the tunnels were constructed as far back as the 14th century. And the layout mimics the Parisian city streets, complete with street signs and home address numbers marking each home's -- ahem -- output pipe.

After a particularly bad break-up, there are always those objects that are loaded with emotion. And as tempting as it to smash your love trinkets with a sledge hammer, most of us end up storing them away or selling them at the pawnshop to some unsuspecting soul.  Well, the Museum of Broken Relationships is filled with those sorts of items.

An axe, some glass shards of a broken lamp, a prosthetic leg -- they're all donations from the broken-hearted and they all tell a story. Each object comes with a displayed note card; some note cards simply summarize the relationship, some have only a short sentence or two about the object itself. Still others are filled with enigmatic phrases whose meaning only makes sense to the broken-up couple. While this museum isn't exactly as gross or giggle-inducing as the other places on our list, it will certainly make you reminisce in a way no Monet can.

The Meguro Parasitological Museum's panels aren't in English, but you won't need a translation. The displays are illustrated quite thoroughly with graphics and photos that detail parasitic life cycles and their effects on the chosen host. And don't forget the extensive collection of specimens of both animal and human parasites -- safely preserved in jars and behind glass, of course.

With two full floors of parasites, this museum is definitely not for the faint of heart. But if fish with isopod infected gills and scrotum elephantitis-inducing roundworms are up your alley, by all means be our guest. Be sure to check out the museum's pièce de résistance: a 24-foot tapeworm, which was extracted from a woman's intestine.

Stuffed into a trailer-size building, the Gopher Hole Museum is a whole other breed of weird. Stuffed gophers feature in more than 40 dioramas, which depict scenes inspired by the locals. That's right: stuffed, costumed and posed gophers.

Reverend Gopher gives a sermon at his pulpit while an Angel Gopher hovers above; Mr. and Mrs. Gopher say their vows surrounded by friends and family; and Curling Gopher practices with his broom at the local ice rink. Gopher farmers, gopher clowns, gopher campers and even a Canadian Mountie gopher are all primped and posed for visitors. The cheeky tour takes all of 10 minutes, but it's worth it just for the kitsch factor. 

With nearly 300 phalli from both local and global mammals, the Icelandic Phallological Museum has a lot to brag about.

The collection started with the curator's passion for his prized bull pizzle (a whip made from a bull's phallus) and grew with the whale specimens from his friends in the whaling industry. But the gaggle of trinkets soon developed into something more. After letting the idea of a public display gestate, the Icelandic Phallological Museum was born. You can take a picture next to the four-foot whale specimen or ogle the supposed fairy members in the folklore section.

Preserved in formalin or salted and dried, the collection continues to grow each year. But before you ask: Yes, the museum received its first Homo sapien specimen donation at the beginning of April 2011, carefully preserved in formalin. And three plaques hang on the wall notifying visitors of impending donations from other human friends of the museum. Although giggling is encouraged, other common museum rules -- mainly "do not touch" -- apply here as well.

Our winner is a no brainer. Filled with medical oddities of the past, the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Pa. is the weirdest and most interesting on the list. Specializing in medical history and science, the museum has quite the collection of human oddities in its small corner of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

The infamous collection features medical quandaries like the Soap Lady; skeletons of twins joined at the skull and ribcage; sliced sections of a human head pickled in glass; and loads of old medical devices are on full display for patrons. For some background, you should dig through the extensive library of medical documents from strange cases of yore (exploration by appointment only). Creepy yet intriguing, we recommend you hold off on lunch until after your visit.

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