Unusual museums in Europe.
My Vt column, hidden away on site but I wanted it here too.
I've taken out most of the hyperlinks, but if you google the red museum names + green place names you'll get details, location, opening times etc etc.
.A break from the norm: a random list of some (very) odd museums in Europe*
Europe has so many truly wonderful museums to explore, full of glorious art and artefacts. And yet, sometimes, they can be just a little….well, 'overwhelming' might be a good word. Of course, if it's beautiful weather you can sit in the sun and people-watch, wander the markets, gaze at the architecture, enjoy a drink at a pavement café………but what if it's pouring with rain, or freezing cold? Everything has a history, and there are plenty of people who enjoy making collections (often of the oddest things). So there are some very strange museums dotted about Europe and this page gives an entirely random selection.
Perhaps an hour or so investigating a strange museum might provide an antidote to serious-museum-overload?
If you are visiting the beautiful English Lake District why not pop into the Cumberland Pencil Museum? You never guessed pencils could be so interesting, did you?
Or what about the British Lawnmower Museum, not too far away in seaside Southport?
If you're in Oxford the Pitt-Rivers museum is simply unmissable. Victorian Major-General Pitt-Rivers was an avid collector of almost anything from all over the world (he paid people to collect for him, of course). You'll find prehistoric tools, national costumes, shrunken heads, model boats, jewellery, musical instruments…..you name it, and the Pitt-Rivers will almost certainly have it somewhere!
You'll know about the wonderful Uffizi, Accademia and other superb art museums in Florence. But how about a visit to La Specola? This museum of zoology next to the Pitti Palace not only contains the standard exhibits one might expect but some truly fascinating (and superbly skilful) anatomical models, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are more than 600 wax models of body parts and full corpses. Especially enticing is the room which holds gruesome scenarios of Florence during the plague. Not for the faint-hearted!
When in Rome, you might consider a visit to the Criminological Museum. There are three main display areas but it is in the 'Punishment and crimes' section that you'll find out how prisoners in the past were 'persuaded' to confess and punished for their misdeeds. OK, tortured. And another one not for the faint-hearted!
In Prague there's a teeny-tiny museum up on the Hrad which houses teeny-tiny objects. The Museum of Miniatures is the work of Russian Anatoly Konenko. He's the man who has managed to shoe a flea, to put a caravan of camels in the eye of a needle, to write the Lord's Prayer on a human hair and much, much more……creating miniatures is his life's work (his obsession, perhaps?). You have to look at all the exhibits through magnifying glasses, and they are absolutely fascinating. Tremendous skill!
Munich actually has a 'museum of unusual museums'. It's the private collections of one Manfed Klauda, a local lawyer. You'll find collections of chamber-pots, corkscrews, perfume bottles and 'bourdalous' (so very useful for female travellers!). The museum is in a passageway off the Isartor, although there is no website. Have a look at this VT tip for more information.
There are plenty of others to choose from…..
The National 'From Musical Clock to Street Organ' Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands, has (yes, you guessed it!) an amazing array of street organs, fairground organs, musical boxes….
How about the history of umbrellas and parasols ? Visit the museum in Gignese, near Milan and you will be able to stun friends and family with your umbrella knowledge!
Wrought-iron fan? Then go to Rouen, in France, and visit the wrought-iron museum. Of course.
Or maybe you are into asparagus? If so, then the European Asparagus Museum in Schrobenhausen, southern Bavaria will fill you with joy!
Sweet tooth? The Museu de la Xocolata in Barcelona will certainly make your mouth water. Or, in the UK, you could try Cadburyworld.
You'll be certainly amazed by the sugar-art skills at the 'Sugar-art Museum' in Cordes-sur-ciel, France.
Bread is 'the staff of life' so of course it must have its own bread museum. You'll find it in Ulm, Germany.
The small Danish island of Aeroe makes a lovely, peaceful holiday destination……and it's here you can find the astonishing 'Bottle-Peter' museum, containing the 1000+ models made by Flaske-Peter Samling during his lifetime (and more).
Need cheering up? The Circus and Clown Museum on Karmelitergasse in Vienna might just do the trick!
A random list, indeed…..but maybe there is something to tickle your fancy next time you are in one of the places mentioned in this column?
And if you aren't going to any of them, why not check out the VT off-the-beaten-path tips for your destination? It's entirely amazing how many unusual museums exist all over the world…….and a VT member somewhere will almost certainly have visited them!