You might wonder why anyone would pay money to gaze at collections of dog collars, toilets, packets of ramen and mammalian penises in jars, but one thing we’ve learned from this list of weird museums is that absolutely anything can be collected and put on display. These unusual exhibitions range from the bizarre and macabre, like a Peruvian museum of brain abnormalities, to the oddly specific, like Massachusetts’ Museum of Burnt Food.
Icelandic Phallological Museum
On the busiest street in Reykjavik, you’ll find a museum filled with shelf after shelf of animal penises in jars. Iceland’s Phallological Museum started as a private collection in 1974 when the founder received a bull’s penis as a joke gift, and it took off from there. “Some of my teachers used to work in summer in a nearby whaling station and after the first specimen they started bringing me whale penises, supposedly to tease me. Then the idea came up gradually that it might be interesting collecting specimens from more mammalian species.
Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, India
Run by a social service organization that works to protect human rights, sanitation, waste management and social reform through education, New Delhi’s toilet museum showcases the 4,500-year history of toilets around the world, including one disguised as a bookcase and King Louis the XIV’s royal throne, upon which he was said to defecate during court sessions. Sulabh International has been credited with bringing sanitation to India’s poor, and founded the museum to send a message about how important proper disposal of human waste is.
Avanos Hair Museum, Turkey
The names and addresses of over 16,000 women around the world are taped to delicate little samples of hair hanging from the walls at the Avanos Hair Museum, a bizarre treasure tucked into the caves of Turkey’s surreal Cappadocia beside the owner’s pottery studio. The first lock of hair went up in 1979, supposedly as a memento for founder Chip Galip, starting a bit of a trend in which women voluntarily left their locks behind. Every year Galip chooses ten hair samples at random and invites the women to come back for a pottery workshop and to stay in his traditional guest house for free.
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Japan
The history of ramen noodles and Cup Noodles is celebrated at the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, a free exhibit with recreations of the ramen inventor’s workshop and thousands of cups and packets of instant noodles on display. There’s also an instant ramen workshop where visitors can make their own noodles.
Meguro Parasitological Museum, Japan
Get up close and personal with tapeworms, mites and other parasites at the world’s only parasitological museum. Located in the Meguro neighborhood of Tokyo, this museum has over 45,000 specimens in its collection, including the world’s longest tapeworm at 8.8 meters. You can even get yourself a parasite-themed souvenir.