Museum of Bad Art, Dedham, Massachusetts
Founded in 1993, this museum is the Louvre of the art school reject pile. Comprised of over 600 pieces, the museum aims to "to celebrate the labor of artists whose work would be displayed and appreciated in no other forum." The criteria is originality (no paint-by-numbers), and a quality which ensures that the piece would “never hang in a museum or commercial gallery.” Most pieces look as though they were taken from a third-grade art class, or done by people with no real experience who were trying to copy Picasso’s style. An anonymous pastel, “Retching Like An Egyptian,” features a piece adorned with colorful squiggles, and a Pharaoh-figure assumedly retching brightly colored shapes.
Admission is free, and the MOBA now has two locations and an online exhibit.
Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame, Los Angeles, California
You might want to leave the children at home for this one. The ground floor is a retail store that sells everything from push-up bras to musical underwear that sings “Happy Birthday.” Upstairs is The Lingerie Museum, which features only the most renowned of Hollywood undergarments. These include boxers worn by Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Madonna’s black and gold tassel bustier from her “Who’s That Girl” tour, and underwear from the cast of Beverly Hills 90210.
Admission is free, and the museum is open seven days a week during regular store hours.
Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The Salt and Pepper Museum is exactly what it sounds like. The 22,000 sets of shakers come from anthropologist Andrea Ludden, who wrote a study on them. The salt and pepper shakers are displayed according to theme and color, and some have had stories created about them by the owners which are also on display. Notable shakers include: the King and Queen of Nepal, specially-made left-handed shakers, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Jonah inside of a whale, Jackie and JFK, and a pair of carrots. A walk through the museum is also a walk through the history of these condiment dispensers, and how they have changed throughout the decades and centuries.
Children 12 and under are free, while adults have to pay $3/each – but the admission goes towards any salt and pepper shaker purchased from the gift shop!
International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine
While most museums rely on history and facts, the International Cryptozoology Museum thrives on the opposite. Cryptozoology is the study of unverified animals, such as mermaids and Big Foot. The museum was created by Loren Coleman, who has written over 35 books and is a leading expert on beings that may not exist. The museum is filled with “proof” that doesn’t prove anything: P.T. Barnum’s Feejee Mermaid (really just a monkey’s torso sewed onto a fish), hair samples of the Abominable Snowmen, “fecal matter” from a small Yeti, and a sculpture of Bigfoot. For anyone who heard about creatures like the Loch Ness Monster growing up, this museum of monster movie props and “real” samples will be a treat.
Admission to “the world’s only cryptozoology museum” is $7, and you can get your picture taken with the Bigfoot statue!
International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico
What really happened at Rosewell in July 1947? If you’re looking for answers on your UFO conspiracies, is not the place to get them. The museum poses more questions than it answers, and is primarily useful for bringing together those who believe in government cover-ups and alien visitors. The “Research Center” compiles a list of UFO sightings on its website, and the exhibits include information on Area 51, crop circles, and ancient astronauts. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions, and stay “from 30 minutes to a week.” The museum upholds its serious line of research and inquiry, although its large display of smoke-emitting grey alien and UFO is harder to take seriously.
Admission is $5, and gift shop items include Christmas ornaments featuring with the smiling faces of little green men.
The Hobo Museum, Britt, Iowa
For those who want to educate themselves on the history and culture of hobos, there is The Hobo Museum. Operated by the Hobo Foundation, the museum began with several boxes of artifacts, and is dedicated to the history of the traveling nation. It is filled with books, music, and crafts created by hobos from all over the country. The gallery is housed in an old theater, and has a photo display beginning in the 1930s, as well as video tapes of hobo conventions.
According to the website, “A hobo wanders and works, a tramp wanders and dreams, and a bum neither wanders nor works.” Admission is $3.
The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, St. Paul, Minnesota
This museum will certainly make you question the history of medicine. The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices holds the most radical and ridiculous evidence of medical science’s mishaps. Sure, maybe we can accept that people in the 19th century used phrenology machines to study personality based off of the bumps on one’s head. But the 1930s McGregor Rejuvenator, which supposedly reversed the aging process by throwing magnetic and radio waves at people’s bodies, is a bit harder to understand. After seeing what types of “science” people in the past put their faith in, you’ll never be more grateful for modern medicine.
The founder and proprietor, Robert McCoy, donated the collection to the Science Museum of Minnesota before he passed away.
Chasing Rainbows Museum, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
If you love all things Dolly Parton, this is the museum for you. “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain” is written across the nondescript green doorway that belies the intensity of the museum. Located in Dollywood, the museum holds costumes from Parton’s 9 to 5, Straight Talk, and gowns from various media appearances. Casual fans will also be interested in pictures of Parton with her celebrity friends like Johnny Cash and Jane Fonda, as well as a collection of her hand-written lyrics. For the hardcore fans, the museum also holds a copy of Parton’s birth certificate, and a replica of the cabin she grew up in, down to dolls like her father used to make. The Chasing Rainbows Museum is a full-on Dolly Parton immersion experience, for anyone who can handle it.
Admission is $92 for entry to Dollywood.
Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, Idaho
The Idaho Potato Museum was built to commemorate the importance of the spud in the local economy. Not only does it take you through the potatoes’ revolutionary history, but it also has on display the world’s largest potato crisp! The crisp, donated by Pringles, measure 25 inches long by 14 inches wide and weighs 1/3 of a pound. At the museum entrance is the World’s Largest Styrofoam Potato, complete with sour cream and butter on top. Children will enjoy the Mr. Potato Head tribute display, and you can brag about having visited The Potato Capital of the World.
Admission is $3, and the gift shop wares include potato fudge, potato cookies, and potato ice cream.