Quirky Collections: Unexpected Museums
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
Tired of trudging past fine art? Weary of feigning interest in natural history? These offbeat museums, dedicated to items not normally associated with curation and scholarship, will rekindle your interest in spending the day indoors.
108 Main St, Haines, AK 99827, USA
It’s nearly impossible to miss the Hammer Museum in Haines: It’s the building next to the giant hammer. The museum got its start when founder Dave Pahl brought home one too many hammers and his wife suggested that a new plan for his...
Piazza di Santa Trinita, 5R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
What began in pre-war Italy as two small workshops in the Palazzo Spini Feroni on Via Tornabuoni has grown into a fashion empire and a brand synonymous with Hollywood glamour. A museum dedicated to the craftsmanship of Salvatore Ferragamo opened...
514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Little-known fact: New Orleans was the first place in North America to license pharmacists (starting in 1769, when the city was still under Spanish rule). After Louisiana became a territory, the U.S. governor extended the requirement, also...
140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007, USA
One of the most beloved Houston celebrations is its annual Art Car Parade, which takes places in downtown Houston every spring and showcases cars decorated in every material imaginable. Even if you can’t make it to the parade, you can still find...
327 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W7, Canada
The Bata Shoe Museum is dedicated to the history of footwear through the ages. And what a spectacular history! After one visit, you'll be able to distinguish Rajasthani mojaris from chopines, the platform shoes worn by...
22 Rømersgade København K, 1362 København, Denmark
Don’t be put off by a museum dedicated to showing how the working class has lived over the past 150 or so years. One of Copenhagen’s more unusual and enjoyable attractions, the Workers Museum is a surprisingly excellent place for a...
Herengracht 573, 1017 CD Amsterdam, Netherlands
This collection of 5,000-plus bags, purses, and accessories—the largest in the world—spans more than 500 years, from a practical 16th-century goatskin money pouch to a whimsical shoe-shaped purse by contemporary Dutch footwear designer...
Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
Surely the world’s only museum to showcase the phalluses of an entire nation's mammalian wildlife, Iceland’s Phallological Museum is somewhat unique. Despite its obvious quirk factor, the museum is actually an interesting...
4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050, USA
Don a headset, approach an exhibit, and wirelessly listen to African thumb piano or Mongolian throat singing at the vast Musical Instrument Museum. Besides browsing some 15,000 artifacts that represent different musical genres, visitors can catch...
325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
This sheet-metal fever dream by architect Frank Gehry is like a rock-and-roll Guggenheim, home to interactive exhibits that span music, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, video games, and other scrambled bits of modern life. A hands-on studio lets kids...
Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Abba, the most successful Swedish group of all time, enjoyed a global return to fame with the success of the musical and the film Mamma Mia! In its home country, however, its popularity never dimmed. The museum allows visitors to guest star...
Ćirilometodska ul. 2, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
You don’t need to have a broken heart to have a blast at Zagreb’s quirkiest museum. Located in a Baroque town house in the Upper Town, the Museum of Broken Relationships is full of mementos from other people’s romances gone sour. The idea for the...
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