This post started off as a Top 10, but, as I’m receiving requests to add other niche museums to the list, I’m going to do that. If you know of any museums that specialise in a particular subject – let me know and I’ll add it.
You’ve got to admire the doggedness of niche museums. Sticking to your subject and not veering from the path. Here are 10 of the, well, not necessarily best, but certainly 10 of the most interesting.
Meguro Parasitological Museum
This isn’t a large museum, but it’s the only one in the world dedicated to the parasite and it’s situated in Tokyo. The star attraction is a tape worm just under nine metres in length, but you’ll also see examples of over 300 species of parasites, including a dolphin stomach infected by one as pictured above (or as someone quite rightly pointed out as a comment to that picture, is it the Flying Spaghetti Monster)? And you can take home a souvenir: t-shirts with pictures of parasites on them can be purchased in the museum shop.
The Carrot Museum
In the tiny Belgian village of Berlotte lies a carrot museum that is actually just a rotating display unit in an ex-electricity tower. The unit is controlled by the user turning a wheel to view the carrot exhibits. There’s more carrot-related paraphernelia in the vicinity including a carrot clock, light, weather vane and a carrot light. The “museum” is maintained by a carrot club that admits only men, because only men can grow carrots, obviously.
The Bunny Museum
Over 28,000 examples of bunny-related items decorate this Pasadena museum. It’s in a private house and visits are by appointment only. Giant bunnies, little bunnies, pictures, books, fancy dress outfits, live rabbits, cuddly rabbits, Elvis-bunnies, Canadian Mounty-bunnies: whatever your interest, as long as it’s rabbit-related, it’ll be catered to at the Bunny museum!
Museum of Food Anomalies
This one’s purely online and features food that has “Gone Horribly Wrong”. Novelty items like a “Blackhole M&M” (gravitational pull has stretched it out of all recognition), a “Peanut Zombie Pirate” complete with eye patch and scowl and “The Saddest of Sad Potatoes” all the way from Slovenia.
British Lawnmower Museum
Discover the fascinating history of the lawnmower in an apparently internationally known museum in Southport, Merseyside. The lawnmower dates back from 1830 when a cloth cutting piece of machinery was ingeniously used by a man called Beard Budding to cut grass. The museum has many Victorian and Edwardian examples of the lawnmower, “The water cooled ‘Egg’ Boiler Lawnmower” and some of the most expensive lawnmowers in the world. Not sure about the photograph of Nora the Tour Guide on the page below.
Shanghai Eyeglasses Museum
Thousands of pairs of glasses are on display at this Shanghai museum, including some dating back to the Song dynasty in the 10th century. There are exhibits on eye health, plus a giant eye, an eyeglasses workshop from the 1970s and a 1.4 meter pair made of turtle shell.
Museum of the Purpose of the Object
The Museo Del Objeto (MODO or Museum of the Purpose of the Object) examines the design and packaging of everyday objects. Whether that be water bottles, religious knick-nacks, 1980s trainers, skateboards or more. The collection upon which the museum was founded was that of Bruno Newman who found that visitors to his home enjoyed looking at five old French toiletry containers he’d bought. So he thought he’d expand. These days, many of the 30,000 exhibits have come from collectors who have donated part of their collections.
Museum of Enduring Beauty
AKA the Museum of Torture. No, that’s in Amsterdam. This one’s in Malacca, Malaysia and counts among its exhibits coils designed to lengthen the neck and shoes to bind the feet: basically tools used for body modification in the name of some sort of culturally-defined beauty that in the grand scheme of things means absolutely nothing (sorry – I’ll get off my soapbox now).
The Medieval Crime Museum
This Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany museum is, according to the museum’s website, the only one on the subject of law in Europe and should actually be yet another Museum of Torture. Execution equipment, a wheel for killing the convicted by crushing their bones, a torture chair specifically for bakers who sold bread that wasn’t big enough, a mask of shame and a chastity belt are among the gruesome items on display.
Thailand is one of the largest producers of condoms (who knew?) And this Ministry of Health sponsored museum in Nonthaburi, Thailand, was set up to encourage a more positive attitude to these small rubber items. The building is actually within the Ministry itself and is quite hard to find as it’s hidden away at the back beside a sewage treatment plant (full details in this CNN article but it’s well worth a visit if you’re into condoms and penis pumps and lubricants. Plus there’s a large selection of sexual health posters through the ages. Unmissable.
And no, I’m not going to mention the Penis Museum in Iceland.
The Museum of Chicken Art
If you’ve seen those chicken calendars, you’ll know that chickens are, as well as a food source, very beautiful creatures. They’ve been well represented in art and this museum in Seoul explores its role in Western as well as Eastern art and sculpture. (This museum was recommended by @2wheelwanderer)
International Cryptozoology Museum
This is the only cryptozoology museum in the world and it’s situated in Portland, Maine. This particular branch of zoology, as you’ll know, focuses on animals not proven to exist (yet), and the museum has a look at the work of explorers in this field and the popular culture and stories surrounding it. Expect to see things like hair samples of abominable snowmen and the fecal matter of a yeti. There have of course been fakes in this field of study and these aren’t ignored – see the FeeJee Mermaid above. (Recommended by cryptozoologist @CryptoLoren who established the museum).
The world’s first graphite pencil is believed to have come from Cumbria. 500 years ago a storm uprooted some trees, uncovering black graphite: shepherds then began marking their sheep with this handy substance. The family-friendly Pencil Museum in Keswick, Cumbria sits in the first pencil factory in the world and is a home to the world’s longest colour pencil. Discover the history of the pencil and find out how lead gets in there. And it features in my favourite film of the year, “Sightseers”. (Recommended by @Durer_x)