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Ten of the World's Quirkiest Museums

by Moderator December 2010 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

You've been to the Met, the Guggenheim, the Getty Center, the V&A and the rest. You've gazed in awe at Pollocks, Lichstensteins, Hoppers and Warhols, had your photo taken with prehistoric creatures and admired the treasures of ancient tombs.

These monuments to history, art, innovation and science are justifiably world-renowned, but today we're celebrating the obscure, the less well-documented, the niche and the just plain bizarre. We've tracked down ten of the world's more unusual museums, and doff our caps in thanks to the truly dedicated (and often eccentric) enthusiasts behind them...

London - The Museum of Brands, Advertising and Packaging

Almost hidden down an unassuming mews off Portobello Road, this Notting Hill museum is the personal collection of one man, consumer historian Robert Opie, whose fascinating collection of brand ephemera extends to toys, magazines, advertising design, fashion and souvenirs.

With over 12,000 original items on display, the history of consumerism is presented through the creative evolution of branding from Victorian times to the present day.

San Francisco - Musee Mecanique

One of the world's largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated antique arcade games and musical instruments, Musee Mecanique is a truly enchanting dose of nostalgia.

Musee Mechanique © jeremyriad on Flickr

Musee Mecanique © jeremyriad on Flickr

Bring pocketfuls of quarters to play some of the ancient pinball machines, and don't miss the toothpick fairground, handcrafted by the inmates of San Quentin prison. Find the museum at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf.

Hong Kong - Tao Heung Museum of Food Culture

Food Seasonings © Tao Heung Museum of Food Culture

Food Seasonings © Tao Heung Museum of Food Culture

Any museum that has a "Rice Zone" and a "Seasoning Zone" is surely worth a look. The Museum of Food Culture in Hong Kong, previously known as Foods of Mankind, was established to promote an understanding of different food cultures around the world, and along with various simulated restaurant settings, it offers guided tours of tableware, utensils and containers. Incredibly, there's 5,000 square feet of the stuff.

Los Angeles - The Bunny Museum

The Bunny Museum, LA © The Bunny Museum

The Bunny Museum, LA © The Bunny Museum

27,351 Bunny Items! Multiplying Daily! Most Bunnies in the World! - screams the rather exuberant website of Pasadena's Bunny Museum. Located in the private home of bunny devotees and married couple Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski, the 'living museum' is a testament to their longstanding love of the lagomorph, and is jam-packed with bunny matter, real and stuffed. There's even a Rose Parade ex-float bunny gracing the front lawn.

Tokyo - The Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasitological Museum, Tokyo © istolethetv on Flickr

Meguro Parasitological Museum, Tokyo © istolethetv on Flickr

Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, encourages Tokyo's Meguro Parasitological Museum. It's a good piece of advice, because a trip here will put you face to face with more than 300 specimens, including the world's longest tapeworm which - at almost 9 metres - was pulled out of its human host after he ate one too many raw fish. There's a gift shop too, so you can stock up on flea keyrings and tick t-shirts. Eat before you go.

Delhi - Sulabh International Museum of Toilets

The humble loo is displayed here in all its guises, from early privies to decorative chamber pots and bidets to fancy thrones. Put your Delhi belly jokes to one side however, because the International Museum of Toilets is actually the side project of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who runs a well-respected non-profit organisation which campaigns for the expansion of sanitation to India's poorest people.

Chamber Pots © Sulabh International Museum of Toilets

Chamber Pots © Sulabh International Museum of Toilets

Cape Town - The Museum of South African Hip Hop

Newly opened this year, the first hip-hop museum in South Africa charts the turbulent course of the country's hip-hop scene, from the voter education campaigns of Prophets of da City to award-winning rapper Zulu Boy. More than just a museum, the 'urban music emporium' sports a production studio and practise facilities, and aims to promote hip-hop as a positive choice of activity for South Africa's youth.

illSkills © The Museum of South African Hip Hop

illSkills © The Museum of South African Hip Hop

Shanghai - The Propaganda Museum

With modern China forging a path towards prosperity, it's easy to forget the extent to which the collective consciousness of the Chinese people was influenced by Mao and his Red Guard groups in the Cold War and Cultural Revolution eras.

The artworks of the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center played an enormous part in attempting to create a sense of optimism, leader worship, industriousness, brotherhood and reverence for past glories, and this remarkable museum documents and preserves more than 5,000 examples.

Be Ready Always © Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center

Be Ready Always © Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center

New York - Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art © Tom Powel Imagin and MOCCA

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art © Tom Powel Imagin and MOCCA

Heaven on earth for cartoon and comic book fans, MoCCA takes its stated mission to promote the appreciation of cartoon and comic art very seriously. Every conceivable variation of the genre is represented within its collection, from animation and political illustrations to graphic novels and computer art. It even organises an annual two-day festival which attracts thousands of fans, artists and publishers from across the globe - the next is April 9-10, 2011.

Las Vegas - The Mob Museum

We're cheating a little bit here, because Las Vegas's brand new Mob Museum isn't even open yet, and won't be for a few months yet. It's already causing controversy though, with debates raging in Sin City between those who view a museum dedicated to the Mob as glamourising organised crime and those who see it as a genuine attempt to tell the real story behind what made Las Vegas the city it is today.

The Mob Museum © The Mob Museum Las Vegas

The Mob Museum © The Mob Museum Las Vegas

The museum, which aims to "provide fresh insights" into Vegas's battle with crime over the past seventy years, will be located within the former federal courthouse and US Post Office, one of the last remaining historically significant buildings in Las Vegas and it's hoped it will help to revitalise the downtown area.

Thanks to Jeremyriad and istolethetv on Flickr, and to dregsplod for the header photo of the Human Kaleidoscope at the Musee Mecanique, San Francisco.

Virgin Atlantic fly to all of the cities above and you'll always find the very best fares on our website.

Have you been to any of these museums or do you have any other unique finds to recommend? Let us know in the comments below.


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Comments
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December 2010
Cool post :) For more quirky stuff check out www.quirkyguide.com
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December 2010
Thanks Marie. Some good stuff in there! We just tweeted a link to it. Maxine.
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DavidGallagher
December 2010
Hi,

Thanks very much for including us in this post, extremely august company, I must say!

I want to alert you to the fact that Musee Mecanique has a new web site at http://www.museemecaniquesf.com. The one you link to is not owned or operated by the Dan Zelinsky, owner of Musee Mecanique (it's also sorely out of date)

If you could change your link, we'd appreciate it.

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December 2010
No sooner said than done, David. Apologies for that and thanks for letting us know :)
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ArtExhibitions
February 2011
keywords.” (Until 12th June.)After something a little quirkier, check out our guide to Ten of the World’s Quirkiest Museums.For great deals and info on flights to all of these destinations, hop on over to virginatlantic.com
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Estravelireisi
May 2011
originaalartiklit siit. Mõtle kaasa (0) - Teema: kummalised muuseumid, muuseumid, põnevad paigad,
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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.