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World's full of weird, wonderful museums

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It is a near certainty that on almost any journey we take, near or far, a visit to a museum will be in the offing.

Travel through any country, and there will be major world-class museums from which to choose.

But there is also a collection of weird and wonderful smaller museums that appeal to the quirky side of all of us. Many will not suit all tastes but they have become popular venues for people who seek the unusual.

If you fall into that category, here are the Top 10 choices to consider.

 

1. Museum of Bad Art

Why look for the finest art pieces in the world when for a fraction of the cost you can discover the worst the art world has to offer.

In Boston in the Dedham Community Theatre, what started as a private basement collection has now moved decidedly upstairs.

Referred to as the "best of the worst art in the world," more than 500 pieces are displayed for tourists to enjoy, or not.

If you have the reputation of being a particularly hideous artist, send in your worst and you may achieve the dubious honour of being accepted into the no-talent fold.

 

2. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets

Interested in bathroom humour?

When we visited Kusadasi, Turkey a few years ago, I was surprised at how many people insisted on being photographed sitting on the ancient stone toilets. Perhaps that is where the creator of this museum got the idea and transported it to New Delhi, India.

Here, the evolution of toilets is unfolded in a history lesson you may or may not want to ever have studied. Loads of exhibits from around the world are on display for you to contemplate their origins as you sit and observe.

 

3. Sewer Museum

Movie fanatics got a look at what they must have looked like for part of French history in the movie Les Misérables.

But even before then, around 1200 AD, all roads in Paris were paved with a drainage system running through the middle of the roads created over 2,092 kilometres of tunnel. On your next visit to Paris, you can explore those tunnels and get into the feeling of Jean Valjean.

 

4. British Lawnmower Museum

With some of the world's greatest museums located in the heart of London, it is amazing tourists have the time or inclination to add this one to their lists.

While it may be interesting to know the push lawnmower was invented in 1830, only the mechanically inclined, it seems, would be anxious to view the evolution of this piece of equipment from mower to tractor. You will find this museum in Lancashire, Great Britain.

 

5. The Meguro Parasitological Museum

I don't like bugs. And as for parasites go, I try to steer a clear path away from them.

For those attracted to some of the gross-out movies that have populated our movie screens over the past few years, this museum in Tokyo may be the right thing.

I'll pass on this one if you don't mind. But if you are looking for genuine information about these rather disgusting creatures, you will leave well educated.

 

6. Shin Yokohama Raumen Museum

Beyond parasites, you will find some of the finest culinary options available to you in Yokohama, Japan.

For the local population of this great country, Raumen or ramen noodles has become the staple food.

Just over 50 years ago, in 1958, some creative chef created an instant version of these noodles. Now there is a three-storey museum that feeds on the historical significance of this now-international food source. If you can't get there, enjoy the Ramen experience at any one of the 200,000 restaurants for whom Ramen noodles are the specialty.

 

7. Wunderkammer

Animal fossils, butterfly specimens and old medical supplies add an air of a Frankenstein movie as you wander about this museum in Melbourne.

Apparently, Wunderkammer is the original concept of German museums where collections of nature's wonders form the foundation for the displays.

 

8. The Banana Museum

Located in Auburn in the state of Washington, not exactly a plantation state, this museum traces the history of this popular fruit to the time when it was proper to eat the whole banana, peel and all.

Today, the banana is still the first choice for healthy living in countries where poverty reigns and there is virtually no other way to avoid hunger.

 

9. New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

"I stuck a pin into that voodoo doll," go the words to an old song.

It is that kind of curse that has created a sinister image of voodoo. But this museum in Louisiana, reviewed by many travel books, is said to be a very rich and deep place.

It ties into the heritage of New Orleans and helps visitors understand its people and their superstitions. Or are they superstitions?

 

10. UFO Museum

It was in Roswell, N.M., where believers argue extraterrestrials were found in 1947 and subsequently hidden by the U.S. government.

Making tourist mileage out of this debate, skeptics and UFO fanatics can trade barbs on their views as they pass through what is promoted as a research centre.

 

Forward your travel questions to askjourneys@journeystravel.com. Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found at www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2014 E3

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