Sunday, October 10, 2010

The museums you have to see

In a nod to its proud and rich heritage, Las Vegas is planning on erecting a “museum to the mob” to open by 2011. Exhibits will salute the city’s founding fathers – Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, and Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro. To add to the absurdity of this project, it was the brainchild of the current mayor, Oscar Goodman, a former defense attorney who represented some of these mobsters.

But it got me doing some research. What other bizarre museums are here in America? This list is incomplete but there are certainly enough for you to wanna make your summer vacation plans. So until the Mob Museum opens in Las Vegas, you and your family are welcome to see and enjoy…

The Dr. Pepper Museum
The Triangle Tattoo Museum
The Red Light Museum of Prostitution
The American International Rattlesnake Museum
The International Museum of Toilets
The Exotic World Burlesque Hall of Fame
The Museum of Useful Things
The Lucy-Desi Museum
The Salt Museum
The Museum of Sex
The Bata Shoe Museum
The UFO Museum
The UFO Welcome Center
The Museum of Colorado Prisons
The Texas Prison Museum
The Lunch Box Museum
The Tick Museum
The Cockroach Hall of Fame
The AAF Tank Museum
The Haunted Monster Museum
The Andy Griffith Museum
The Oldest Peanut Museum in the US
The American Cave Museum
The Creationist Taxidermy Museum
The Vacuum Museum
Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner Museum
The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
The Drive-In Museum
Velveteria (velvet painting museum)
The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum
The Museum of Roller Skating
The Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia
The Museum of Bad Art
The Big Daddy Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing
The Teddy Bear Museum
The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame/Museum
The Trash Museum
The Sewing Machine Museum
The Museum to the Creator of Conan the Barbarian
The Conspiracy Museum
The Museum of Surgical Sciences
The Dukes of Hazzard Mini-Museum
The US Border Patrol Museum
The McDonalds Museum
The Big Mac Museum
The Liberace Museum
The Twister Museum
The Houdini Museum
The Weightlifting Hall of Fame
The Museum of Mourning Art
Schmidt’s Coca-Cola Museum
Venthaven Ventriloquist Dummy Museum
The Lawrence Welk Museum
Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum
The Museum of Hoaxes
The Elevator Museum
The Natural Museum of Funeral History
The Museum of Funeral Customs
The Captain Kazoo Museum
The Troll Museum
The Spy Museum
The Museum of Menstruation in Maryland.

And it’s not a museum but certainly worth an honorable mention…

The Circus Performers Mass Grave in Forest Park, Ill.


Nathan said...

Last year, I used the home of a fairly well known photographer as a shooting location for the show I was working on. He too, wants to start a museum some day. For years, he's been collecting vintage dildos and vibrators dating back as far as the 18th century.

He loves to regale anyone who will listen with how the vibrators came into being with the availability of electricity and how, since they weren't considered safe in the hands of novices, women made regular appointments to see their "doctor" for a "treatment".

I have no doubt his museum will feature some interactive displays!

Alyson said...

I've been to the museum of surgical science. It's actually pretty cool.

Peter J. said...

If you want to visit the Liberace Museum you'll have to hurry---it's closing next week.

Michael said...

Ken, sorry, but it's time for a correction. I'm a history professor and I consult with the Mob Museum, so here goes.

What you call the "museum to the mob" is a museum about organized crime and law enforcement. It is ABOUT the mob. "To the mob" suggests a tribute. No. If it is a tribute to the mob, the Holocaust Museum is a tribute to the Holocaust, and we know better. The mayor, Oscar Goodman, was a lawyer for mobsters, and has told us all along, he wants it to be exciting and interesting, and above all honest and truthful.

There is a second museum on the Strip being put together in association with the families of the mobsters you mention. It is called the "Las Vegas Mob Experience." It has nothing to do with the other museum. I am not denigrating it, but it is an entirely different kettle of fish--and I don't mean the fish that Luca Brasi sleeps with.

Phillip B said...

The Liberace Museum is, of course, about to close - bringing an odd moment in time to and end.

Vegas has a very unusual relationship with history - its own and everybody else's. Thousands of years of cultural are reduced to casino themes, or reproduced in miniature, or reborn as cartoons.

I miss the original concept of the MGM - before it burned - or honoring the glory days of film. All that remains is a sleepy old lion and some photos near the food court.

To my knowledge the only TV show honored in any way in Vegas is Star Trek - where you pay to do a dorky green screen tape on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Cap'n Bob said...

Don't forget the Andy Devine Museum.

DonBoy said...

TWO barbed wire museums, one in Kansas, one in Texas.

januaryfire said...

Elvis-a-rama Museum & Gift Shop just off the Vegas strip. When I went there the Elvis impersonator only sang Sinatra songs.

Kirk said...

I know there used to be a museaum in Florida called the National Disaster Museaum. It mostly had to do with the Kennedy Assassination. I never went, but according to a brocure, there was an exact replica of Lee Harvey Oswald's bedroom.

HEATHER said...

Well I have to tell you that Harland D. Sanders was my grandparent's neighbor and I grew up near this place, but it's now a museum-to fried chicken!
Really sad about the Liberace museum's closing! Where ever will we get our fix of feathers and sequins now?!

Janice said...

I don't see The Museum of Jurassic Technology in your list. A strange omission as it's in LA.

Pat Reeder said...

If you are interested in bizarre places to visit, I highly recommend the Roadside America website:

You can spend days surfing that. Also, haunt Amazon or used book stores for the early printed editions of "Roadside America." Those books contain some of the funniest writing that's been put on paper since, well, my last book. And since many of the attractions they describe have sadly bitten the dust, the only way to read the hilarious write-ups of them is to dig up the old books.

YEKIMI said...

There's akso the American Toy Marble Museum in Akron, OH.

It's actually located in and alongside of a museum of the rubber companies that used to be in the area [you know, Goodyear, Firestone, Continental, etc.] and a history of dirigibles, zeppelins and blimps that Goodyear used to build as well.

Tom Michael said...

I second the nod to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA - the "stained glass" figures made from butterfly wings and seen only through microscopes are actually rather intriguing.

I've been to two on your list. The Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum on Bardstown, Kentucky is best viewed during the annual Bourbon Festival. After a few hours, you can see everything twice in one visit.

And the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee is quite educational! I'd never realized how the tow truck was responsible for our victory over the Nazis in World War II. The collection of toy tow trucks also brought back fond childhood memories.

leor said...

don't forget your passport if you want to go to the Bata Shoe Museum, because it's actually in Toronto!

Nicklaus Louis said...

Ken, I grew up in Waco and went to Baylor which is literally blocks from The Dr. Pepper Museum.

If you like Dr. Pepper, you must visit! Even if the only thing you experience is the real sugar Dr. Pepper they serve from the replica soda fountain.

Jennifer F. said...

There's also a Museum of Death, which is right in LA, I believe.

Tom Quigley said...

Leroy, NY can boast of being the home of the Jell-o Museum, on Route 5... If you drive west across the bridge over Oatka Creek, you've already passed it....

rockfish said...

What, no links?!?

Mac Harwood said...

I was with friends fresh out of University when we visited a Beer Museum in New Zealand.

According to the tourist guide it had every type of Beer imaginable.

After visiting we learned that:

1. There is a New Zealand museum totally dedicated to Teddy Bears

2. The New Zealand accent makes 'Bear' sound very similar to 'Beer'.

We never did find the Beer Museum ...

Karl said...

Actually, the Mustard Museum relocated to Middleton, WI very recently, and is now just the National Mustard Museum. Haven't made it out to the new location yet, but I'm sure it's very tasty. :)

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Note to Karl...Thanks for speaking so frankly about the mustard museum. I have relished going there for years. I need to ketchup on my museum visits. As soon as I get out of the pickle I am in, I will start doing some traveling.

DodgerGirl said...

I do enjoy the Salt and Pepper Museum in Gatlinburg, TN.

Bob Beatty said...


Fantastic list. I've been keeping a list myself for the American Association for State and Local History's Twitter feed (I'll add your list today). Here are some from that list:

The Naughty Postcard Museum

Three Stooges Museum

Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

American Truck Historical Society

Paris Sewer Museum:

Pinball machines

Toilet Seat Museum (ironic that it has no working toilet)

Museum of Math

Pez Museum

Burnt Food Museum

Cockroach Museum

Sorry if some of these are duplicates to your list.

Bob Beatty

DwWashburn said...

Here in Vegas we have the Pinball Hall of Fame ( with about 200 working pinball machines from the 40's to the 00's. Great place to go and drop a coin into the slot. And you won't be hoping for lemons or cherries.

elf said...

Wow, DwWashburn, you posted the link to the Pinball Hall of Fame while I was looking it up! I find it to be one of the best attractions in the entire city, though I haven't been there since they moved to their new location. It used to be I'd save all my quaters each time I went to Vegas and fed them into the slots, now I save them all for the Pinball HOF.

EJ said...

These two are not so strange in subject as they are in execution. I guess I'm just a sucker for malformed wax figures...

Why the wax First Ladies need to be 1/3 sized replicas? The world may never know...

Ketty said...

You didn't mentioned Museum of Jurassic Technology. I have been there and found it Beautiful, weird and some what wonderful!, Its exhibits are old & falling apart, but this type of places are fun.if you have sense of wonder about these weird stuff. You should have involve this museum.
Weird Museums Top 10 Museums

Anonymous said...

Mr Ed's Elphant Musenum had a severe fire in July of 2010 and was heavily dammaged. This roadside attraction is just west of Gettysburg, PA was a fun little candy store and trinket shop that was well known.

Rich S.

ZZiby said...

I'll add Newseum in DC and Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas as must see museums. Ground Zero room at ATM was alone worth the visit.