Fine art, NASA technology, and the cinematic history of James Bond — all things that seem fitting for placement in a museum. But anything can be elevated to high-society status by collecting it, curating it, and building a museum around it. Case in point: these four weird museums. From phallic whale exhibits in Iceland to barbed wire in Kansas to sentimental scabs from significant others, these are among the world’s strangest.
Why bury our lede? Iceland’s Phallological Museum is arguably the strangest museum in the world. The Reykjavik-based attraction pays homage to all things phallic. The official website describes it as “probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammal found in a single country.” It’s no doubt the pride of the Icelandic people. Of the 215 penile specimens on display, there’s a particular fixation on sea and land mammals native to Iceland. For a serious dose of humility, don’t miss the whale exhibit.
Part crowdsourced art installation, part homage to the bittersweet beauty of lost love, Croatia’s Museum of Broken Relationships is one of a kind. Here, you’ll find a collection of donated artifacts that each signify a now-defunct relationship. There are the obvious symbols of affection like jewelry, frilly underwear, and Valentine’s Day cards. However, the more bizarre pieces — like this Exe Axe, this armless mannequin, and this sentimental scab (seriously) from a 27-year-old motorcycle accident — are far more interesting. Visitors are encouraged to donate their own items provided there’s a good story behind each piece.
La Crosse, Kansas
Kansas is hardly a bucket-list-worthy destination for most travelers, but what if I told you there’s a barbed wire museum there? Still nothing? Well, the aptly named Kansas Barbed Wire Museum is far more interesting than it sounds. In the wild days of 19th-century America, state borders and property lines were still being fought over. While the six-shooter helped settle many disputes, the advent of barbed wire literally defined most modern-day U.S. borders. The metal itself hardly seems exciting, but its influence on our country was profound.
For average folks, ramen is merely a dirt-cheap, nutrition-free junk food buried somewhere in their local grocer’s “International Foods” aisle. But, for starving students forced to pay their own way through college, those noodles (and cheap beer) were often the only thing keeping them alive for four years. Osaka’s CUPNOODLES Museum is a shrine to the now iconic instant noodles and their creator, Momofuku Ando. The museum chronicles ramen’s impact on Japanese food culture over the last 60 years. Visitors can sample limited edition flavors and even personally craft their own Instant Ramen noodles (from 5,460 flavor combinations!) and packaging at the My CUPNOODLES Factory.