7 Awesomely Odd Museum Collections from Around the World

Ashleigh Hibbins - Museum Professional

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We love experiencing great art, ancient fossils, and enigmatic mummies, but some museums collect more objects that are a little more unconventional. For a museum visit that’s outside the box, check out our list of top quirky collections from around the globe:

Cup Noodles Museum

Osaka, Japan

This lunchtime favorite is more than just a meal in Japan – it’s a cultural icon worthy of a dedicated museum.

Visitors can enjoy an extensive collection of instant noodle packages from around the world, tracing how a single product became a dietary phenomenon in a matter of decades. The collection also includes objects and awards from the life of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of Chicken Ramen in 1958.

Who knew our go-to quick lunchtime meal could belong in a museum collection?

Cup Noodles Museum. Credit: chee.hong via Flickr.

Museum of Bread Culture

Ulm, Germany

If you haven’t had your fill of carbs yet, check out the Museum of Bread Culture for a collection that kneads to be seen to be believed. Explore the 6,000-year history of bread, from production techniques to ceremonial objects celebrating bread as a religious and cultural symbol and more. The collection comprises of over 18,000 objects including bread-making artifacts and artworks by Brueghel, Picasso, Dali, and more.

The one surprising thing you won’t find in the collection? Bread itself. The museum believes that bread is not an artifact, but a food freshly baked.

Der Bäcker, Niederlande by Berckheyde. On display at Museum of Bread Culture.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

Reykjavik, Iceland

When a museum’s website is simply phallus.is, you’re in for a different kind of collection.

Not for the faint-hearted, the museum proudly claims to be ‘the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens.’ Visitors can explore the science of phallology through a collection of more than 200 penises and penile parts of different land and sea mammals in Iceland – including humans.

The museum is a family affair that started with founder Sigurður Hjartarson’s private collection in 1997. Nowadays the museum is curated by the founder’s son, and even has a gift shop with its own interesting collection of items for purchase. Scrotilla the Hun novelty toy anyone?


Photo credit: www.CGPGrey.com

Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum

London, UK

Weird museum collections aren’t just a recent trend – this museum has been around since 1842.

The collection explores 600 years of British pharmacy history – and it’s more interesting than you might think. Objects include brand-name medicines from the 1700s to present day, herbal recipe books, drug jars and mortars, oil paintings, photographs and medical prints.

So if you’ve ever wondered about the past life of painkillers, the collection at the RPSM could have the answers you’ve been looking for.

Museum of Bad Art

Boston (3 locations), Massachusetts, USA

Yes, you read that correctly – bad art.

This is a museum that shuns Da Vinci and Van Gogh in favor of the worst art they can find in Boston’s thrift stores. It’s a collection that only a mother could love, yet MOBA is insanely popular.

The collection ranges from portraiture, landscapes, life drawing and abstract art – all of the lowest-possible quality. Each work of art also includes a tongue-in-cheek description from the museum’s self-described ‘Ivory Tower’ curators.

We’re not sure how the featured artists feel about being in MOBA’s collection, but it’s weirdly encouraging to know that no matter how bad your art is, it could end up in a museum one day.

Spewing Rubik’s Cubes by K. Koch. Credit: Museum of Bad Art.

World Erotic Art Museum

Miami, Florida, USA

If the Phallological Museum isn’t comprehensive enough for you, check out the only public collection in the United States devoted exclusively to erotic art. Objects range from 300 BCE to present day and include sculpture, paintings, film posters and works by famous artists such as Rembrandt and Picasso.

Although this uninhibited collection isn’t for everyone, it provides a fascinating and unique window into the long history of erotic art. Plus, WEAM open until midnight on weekends, which makes it a great date spot for the bolder among us.

Credit: Phillip Pessar via Flickr

Musée Miniature & Cinéma

Lyon, France

This museum presents two unusual collections for the price of one. One half of the museum features 100 hyper-realistic miniature scenes – from little libraries, to compact kitchens, to mini market stalls.

The other half of the museum explores the magic of special effects before the digital era. The collection includes more than 450 original props from famous film sets, including Star Wars, Alien, Batman, and Jurassic Park.

You’d be hard-pressed to find another museum collection that thrills your inner movie buff and miniaturist at the same time. And if you’re closer to New York than Lyon, you can get your fix of all things teeny-tiny at Gulliver’s Gate in Times Square.

Bottom line

From phalluses to pharmaceuticals, bread to bad art, this lists shows that just about anything can be collected to tell compelling stories. There’s a whole world of weird museum collections to enjoy – so get out there and start exploring!

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