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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The 12 Strangest Museums in the U.S.

Random Things

In honor of the Ben Stiller comedy, Night At the Museum: Battle For The Smithsonian, topping the $100 million dollar mark in just its second weekend of release, thought we'd look at some of the 12 strangest museums in the world!

So forget about seeing great art and if you get the chance, indulge yourself with these oddities, selected for us by one of the world's foremost travel writers, Terese Loeb Kreuzer. She shares some of the great bizarre museums she has visited in her travels:

1. Museum of Bad Art: This Massachusetts museum has two galleries, with paintings devoted to portraiture such as "Peter the Kitty," landscape like "Two Trees in Love" and a recent acquisition, a dog in a hula skirt juggling bones.

2. The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minnesota has treasures likes a foot-operated breast enlarger pump and the Battle Creek Vibratory Chair created to relieve constipation.

3. The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India is devoted entirely to -- well, crap including a replica of the monogrammed potty of France's King Louis XIII, which he kept under his throne in case nature called while duty called.

4. The American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, N.M. has nearly 100 snakes. Live ones.

5. The Wooden Nickel Historical Museum in San Antonio, Texas has the world's oldest wooden nickels (from December, 1931) and the world's largest - 13 feet, 4 inches in diameter, weighing 2,500 pounds.

6. The Tinkertown Museum on the road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M. has walls made of 50,000 glass bottles and 22 rooms of animated, wooden figures, mostly carved by the late Ross Ward, who said, "I did all this while you were watching TV." Time well spent, we say.

7. The Trash Museum in Hartford, Conn. is made from recycled trash. Kids can play "Where's the Rat?" as they try to find a rubber rat in the rubbish. Take that, Chuck E. Cheese!

8. Leila's Hair Museum in Independence, Mo. has more than 2,000 pieces of jewelry and 159 wreaths made of human hair, including one made from the hair of two sisters whose heads were shaved when they entered a convent.

9. The Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia is drop-dead fabulous. For real. It contains a woman who died of yellow fever, a collection of shrunken heads, a tumor removed from the jaw of President Grover Cleveland, skeletons of giants and midgets, and more.

10. Speaking of jaws, the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore has Queen Victoria's toothbrush, George Washington's ivory dentures, tusks, dental commercials starring Bill Cosby and Farrah Fawcett, and an assortment of pliers once (painfully) used for extracting teeth.

11. The Corn Cob Pipe Museum in Washington, Mo. is part of the Missouri Meerschaum (Pipe) Company, whose customers have included President Dwight Eisenhower, Mark Twain and Popeye (played by Robin Williams in the film).

12. The last museum on our list is, unfortunately, no longer open. The Museum of Bathroom Tissue in Madison, Wis., contained 3,000 rolls of toilet paper from Europe, Africa, Australia, Canada and Mexico plus an encyclopedic collection of toilet paper from bars and restaurants located in Madison. The museum closed in 2000. We don't know what happened to the collection. We're not sure we want to know. (Photo: Elizabeth Fairall)