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Weirdest Museums on Earth by Priyanka ,  May 31, 2013

Not every museum is a shimmering beacon of high culture. Some focus on the more exotic aspects of the world.

No matter how bizarre, offbeat or outrageous the subject may be, there’s probably a museum dedicated to it. 

1. Beijing Tap Water Museum, China

beijing tap water museumThe exciting side of tap water. No, it’s not a mistranslation.

This former pipe-house in the center of Beijing has been converted into a museum dedicated to the ins and outs of tap water, including 130 “real objects,” models and artifacts such as vintage water coupons dating to the first tap water company in the capital, the Jingshi Tap Water Company.

But don't be tempted to quench your thirst after all this tap water reading; Beijing residents have long known that the water coming out of their taps is hardly safe to drink. 

Don’t miss: The miniature tap water filtration system that gives the Forbidden City a run for its money.

Beijing Tap Water Museum, 6A Dongzhimen Beidajie, Beijing, China; +86 10 64650787

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2. Museum of Bad Art, United States

Think you could do better?Most of the displays here wouldn’t make it to your mother’s fridge, let alone the Louvre.

But here more than 600 pieces, which in other places might inspire polite nods and insincere compliments, have a place to shine.

Located "conveniently beside the toilets” in an old basement in Dedham, Massachusetts, the museum accepts only art too bad to ignore.

Row after row of misshapen flowers and brightly colored portraits reaffirm that, yes, your five-year-old could probably do that.

Don’t miss: “Lucy in the field with flowers,” a true icon depicting a seemingly floating septuagenarian amongst a slowly swaying field of blossoms.

Museum of Bad Art, Dedham Community Theatre, 580 High St., Dedham Square, Dedham, Massachusetts, United States; +1 781 444 6757; www.museumofbadart.org

3. The Dog Collar Museum, England

Medieval puppies would be rolling in their graves if they witnessed the stylish vests doggies are donning today.Nearly half a million pet lovers rejoice every year in this one-of-a-kind display of dog paraphernalia, surprisingly the only one of its kind found in Great Britain.

Dogs have always been a presence at the manor at Leeds Castle gracing the side of Lady Baillie, the last owner of the estate, whose love of dogs inspired the creation of the museum.

The display of puppy attire with more than 100 unique items dates back centuries, documenting the history of canine accessories from medieval times.

Don’t miss: Antique collars from the 15th and 16th centuries, sporting a strip of spikes around the neck to protect against attacking beasts.

The Dog Collar Museum, Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent, England; +44 1622 765400; www.leeds-castle.com 

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4. British Lawnmower Museum, England

Round up the neighborhood fathers, it's time for a field trip!What some might consider an icon of the worst aspect of suburbia is cherished at the British Lawnmower Museum, which details the history of the push-powered garden tool.

Want to see the first solar-powered robot grass-chopper, or the original mower itself, transformed from a contraption used to hem guards’ uniforms? This museum is for you.

From royal lawnmowers belonging to Prince Charles and Princess Diana, to the world’s most expensive lawnmowers, this place allows everyone to at least talk up appearances even if you can't keep them.

Don’t Miss: A fully functional lawnmower less than five centimeters high, ready to shave the errant blade of grass off even the tiniest lawn.

British Lawnmower Museum, 106-114 Shakespeare St., Southport, Merseyside, England; www.lawnmowerworld.co.uk

5. Avanos Hair Museum, Turkey

Explore the world’s largest collection of hair gathered from more than 16,000 women.Avanos, a tiny town in central Turkey, has been famous since antiquity for its remarkable earthenware pottery. In recent years, however, the town has gained fame for a more unusual sight: the caves of the bizarre Hair Museum, created by potter Chez Galip.

The walls under his studio are covered with the world’s largest collection of hair sourced from more than 16,000 women, along with their names and addresses. Locks of every length and color transform everything but the floor in a kind of hairy haven. 

Don’t Miss: The exit

Avanos Hair Museum, 50500 Avanos, Turkey; +90 384 511 5758; www.chez-galip.com

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6. Iceland Phallological Museum, Iceland

A sizable collection.Get your mind out of the gutter. This museum is the premier institution to learn about the male sex organ, described on its website as “probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens.”

There’s no pornography, but you can admire 276 penises, from the tiniest hamster member (two millimeters) to the colossal private parts of a sperm whale (1.7 meters). The museum received its first human exhibit from a 95-year-old Icelandic man earlier this year.

Don’t Miss: Lampshades made out of bull testicles, a tree trunk carved to look like a phallus and an “unusually big” penis bone from a specially endowed Canadian walrus.

Icelandic Phallological Museum, Hedinsbraut 3a, 640 Husavik; +354 566 8668; www.ismennt.is

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7. The Bread Museum, Germany

This museum will get a rise out of you.

While the Museum of Bread Culture may not be as popular as its sliced namesake, it’s certainly an interesting examination of the ends of every sandwich.

More than 18,000 exhibits depict everything from the 6,000-year history of bread in works of art (artists include luminaries Salvador Dali, Many Ray and Pablo Picasso) to ancient artifacts of bakeries dating from the Stone Age.

Make sure to pack a lunch, though: despite being devoted to the food of life, you won’t find one edible loaf within the museum.

Don’t Miss: Silver vessels and ornate glass tankards recalling medieval times

The Bread Museum, Salzstadelgasse 10, Ulm, Germany, +49 (0)731 69955; www.museum-brotkultur.de

8. Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame, United States

cher in underwearCher's bra is among the famous delicates on display. Frederick’s of Hollywood, the store that brought unmentionables such as push-up bras and thong panties to the world, has in its hot-pink art deco flagship display a snapshot of Tinseltown literally under wraps.

While the ground floor is devoted to retail, upstairs is a who’s who of Hollywood undergarments, from Tom Hanks’ boxer shorts in “Forrest Gump” to the undies of the entire cast of “Beverly Hills 90210.”

There’s even women’s undies worn by men in drag, such as the dress worn by Milton Berle on his television show, and the training bra used by Phyllis Diller (marked “this side up”).

Don’t Miss: The museum was one of the many establishments looted during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, losing its cherished purple and gold brassiere formerly belonging to Madonna; however she provided a replacement after Frederick's donated US$10,000 to charity.

Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame, 6608 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, California, United States; +1 800 323 9525; www.fredericks.com

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9. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, United States

You'll see match made in heaven salt and pepper shakers like these at the museum.

Andrea Ludden's obsession is with salt and pepper shakers. A trained anthropologist, she’s writing a definitive study of the condiment dispensers, and displays her collection of more than 22,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers in a building specially arranged for their purpose.

The museum recalls small town Americana, with miniature McDonald's menu items, skeletons, penguins, space aliens and endless variations on nearly every type of vegetable.

You can even pick up your own pair at the gift shop, where many duplicates are for sale, allowing you to start your own collection.

Don’t Miss: You’ll pretty much find whatever figurine you can imagine here between the Amish farmers, sleepy Mexican rancheros and human feet.

Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, Winery Square, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, United States; +1 888 778 1802; thesaltandpeppershakermuseum.com

10. The Kunstkamera, Russia

Pickled fetus at the Kunstkamera.

Russia's first museum might seem an odd selection for a “weird museum,” but even a casual glance at Peter the Great’s cabinet of curiosities reveals some bizarre items. 

The massive collection of more than 200,000 natural and human oddities was originally assembled to dispel the Russian people’s belief in monsters, though it’s difficult to see how the strange exhibits might have accomplished that.

The czar put together a ghastly personal collection of curiosities including deformed fetuses, creatures with extra heads or limbs, even a decapitated human head preserved in vinegar. The building is now home to the modern Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, with many remnants of Czar Peter’s collection of medical freaks hidden behind mannequins of local tribes and rather uninteresting presentations.

Don’t miss: Hundreds of preserved human fetuses, every one of them with an odd anatomical mutation from flippers to deformed heads.

The Kunstkamera, 3 University Emb., St. Petersburg, Russia; +7 812 328 1412; www.kunstkamera.ru/en

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11. International Cryptozoology Museum, United States

The museum features full size art sculptures of your favorite monsters.Cryptozoology is the study of unverified animals, mystical creatures only rumored to exist by legend or belief, such as the Yeti or Loch Ness Monster.

For Loren Coleman, who has become one of the world’s leading experts on creatures that may not exist, “belief” is purely within the realm of religion.

Coleman has created a museum amassing a collection of purported specimens, relics and artifacts dealing with mythical creatures, including a life-size coelacanth and P.T. Barnum’s Feejee Mermaid, as well as a wealth of hair samples, fecal matter and footcasts of animals that probably have never walked the face of the earth. 

Don’t Miss: A 2.5-meter, 130-kilo “Crookston Bigfoot,” probably your only chance to see the legendary creature with your own eyes.

International Cryptozoology Museum, 11 Avon St., Portland, Maine, United States; +1 207 518 9496; cryptozoologymuseum.com

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12. Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Japan

International symbol for bachelor. The meal of choice for bachelors and broke college students the world over now has a home of its own.

This museum honors the creator of the instant ramen noodle, Momofuku Ando -- featured in statue form on a colossal stone cup of his instant meal -- who struggled to create an inexpensive food for the impoverished survivors of World War II.

The museum itself is hardly dry and flavorless, with a kitchen where visitors can make their own instant chicken substitute meal in a bowl, a gourmet snack for people who can’t really cook for themselves. Hot water is provided.

Don’t Miss: The entire catalog of every Nissin instant noodle product. Ever. If you’ve been unemployed for some period of time, you’ll feel right at home.

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Japan; +81 72 751 0825; www.nissin-noodles.com

13. Siriraj Medical Museum (Museum of Death), Thailand

Take your kids here and you'll never have to plan another Halloween.It shouldn’t be taken lightly when a museum is colloquially known as the museum of death, and indeed, this museum is not for the weak of spirit. Or stomach.

On entry to the museum you’re welcomed by the warm rictis grin of the museum founder’s skeleton, a rather foreboding sign of the things to come.

It’s no slasher flick, but it feels like one: hemorrhaged brains, severed and mutilated legs and arms, lungs cut up by deep knife wounds and skulls punctured by bullets demonstrating how bullets ricochet around inside your head.

Pretty much the most gruesome ways to pass on to the next life are on display like a local art museum, and it proves a hit: the morbid exhibition of a hospital is reportedly the most popular attraction in the capital. 

Don’t Miss: The mummified body of Si Ouey, a notorious cannibal who murdered several children during the 1950s.

Siriraj Medical Museum, Siriraj Hospital, 2 Prannok Road, Bangkoknoi, Bangkok; Thailand; +66 2 419 7000; www.si.mahidol.ac.th

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14. Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center, United States

We can't tell what's creepier, the smile or the precise makeup?

Look out for the hand buzzer and seltzer bottle, but this clown museum is more than a barrel of laughs.

The clowns who joked (and sometimes terrified) America are honored inside, with every one of the fascinating stories behind the inch-thick layer of makeup featured in the world’s largest archive of clown artifacts. 

Don’t Miss: The scrapbooks of legendary circus clowns, allowing you to finally discover what exactly it is that makes a clown cry.

International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center, 102 4th Ave., Baraboo, Wisconsin, United States; +1 608 355 0321; www.theclownmuseum.com

15. Museum of Enduring Beauty, Malaysia

Flickr/Northampton MuseumsOur advice on beauty? Just brush your hair and smile. Good hair day? On the third floor of the People’s Museum in Malaysia is a monument to the extremes people will go to feel pretty, oh so pretty.

The records go back to the very beginnings of human history, revealing some of the outrageous concepts of beauty people will conform to: bound feet, insertion of round disks into their mouths, molding heads into oval shapes and much more.

Bring your own mirror; you’ll feel a lot better about your own appearance after leaving this gallery of “real beauty."

The Spam Museum, Austin

Spam Museum 

Image by .Larry Page

Located in Austin, Texas the – excuse me, I have to stop giggling. You know you’re going to have an interesting time of it when a museum advertises itself as a ‘meat-packed day of fun’. Even if you haven’t experienced the ‘life-altering pure pork bliss’ that is SPAM, you’ll no doubt be entertained by SPAM trivia, displays and advertising. And of course, should you wish, you may even indulge in some SPAM on your way out. Admission is free!

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets - India

toilet museum archive 6

Founded by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, the International Museum of Toilets is dedicated to educating visitors about the history and evolution of the modern toilet.

Still boggles the mind that us modern-day marvels haven't come up with a more comfy seating arrangement. Some padding, maybe a cup holder on the side, heck even throw in a shoe-shine while you're at it! Is that an unreasonable request?

Museum of Questionable Medical Devices - St. Paul, Minn

questionable

That sign is more questionable if you ask me ... either way, Robert McCoy, the founder of the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, may have passed away in 2010, but his collection lives on at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The collection features bloodletting devices, foot-operated breast enlargers, a Natural Eye Normalizer (where one could "regain their eye freedom" woohoo!) and other inventions with far-fetched medical claims. 

Reminds me of an episode of Dr 90210. And please, someone needs to use a questionable device to fix that man's hair.

The Washington Banana Museum - Auburn, Wash.

banana

The Washington Banana Museum (who also specialise in wonderful website wallpaper design) contains almost 4,000 banana-related objects, including historical artifacts, art, musical instruments and a ... thermometer. Erm, not so sure I wanna know how that works.

Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, Rome

purgatory

Retro! Located in an eerie room off the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio church (try say that with 10 marshmallows in your mouth) on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, the museum claims to show traces of apparitions who reside in Purgatory - the flaming half-way house where people pay for their sins, and get to eat as many Tim Tams as they like, before being allowed access to heaven.

Scorched handprints adorning bibles, tables and clothing are hailed as signs from souls trapped in fiery Purgatory trying to contact their loved ones to pray for them and reduce the amount of time they have to spend outside of heaven.

The collection was started by a priest who saw a figure in the midst of a fire that destroyed the altar in the church. He thought it must be a soul from Purgatory and started to collect information on the appearances of these pained souls from around the world. Good times.

Currywurst Museum, Berlin

The Germans certainly do love their sausage. And what better way to honour the national banger than by putting it in a museum, in particular, the currywurst.

For 11 euros, visitors to Berlin can learn all about the culinary delight that is sausage - often sliced - in a sauce of tomato, curry powder, spices and Worcester sauce. The ketchup-red museum treats visitors to the sensory experience of currywurst from the sound of sausages sizzling to the smell of exotic spices.

There is even the chance to get behind a mocked-up sausage stand so you can actually imagine what it's like to serve up this much-loved snack.

The importance of the country's saucy sausage is proven both by the museum's location right next to the famous Cold War monument that is Checkpoint Charlie, and the capital's ongoing sausage war with Hamburg about which city really can claim to have invented it.

More info:www.currywurstmuseum.de

An exhibit from The Parasite Museum showing a dolphin stomach infected by a parasite

Stomach churning: An exhibit from The Parasite Museum showing a dolphin stomach infected by a parasite

Parasite Museum, Tokyo

When was the last time you took a moment to think about the mighty parasites of the world? Not too recently? Well, a visit to Tokyo's Parasite Museum can change all that. 

A celebration of the world's greatest scroungers, the museum boasts 300 varieties of parasites with the piece de resistance being a 30-foot tapeworm pulled out of an unsuspecting woman who had reportedly picked it up eating sushi - that's all you need to take a vow of starvation.

As if that's not enough, the museum, which was set up by four scientists specialising in parasites and is also a research facility, has pictures alongside some creatures showing the adverse affect they have on their hosts.

The bonus is, this museum is free, which means more money to spend on souvenir t-shirts with pictures of parasites on, or even rulers and keyrings with dead specimens trapped inside. Lovely.

More info:www.kiseichu.org/english

The interior of the Museum of Funeral Carriages in Barcelona

What a way to go: Barcelona's Museum of Funeral Carriages has become an unlikely hit with visitors

Museum of Funeral Carriages, Barcelona

There is a lot of beauty in Barcelona, from Gaudi architecture to the surrounding coastline, so you might question why anyone would want to forsake a few hours under the Spanish sun in favour of going underground to a dusty museum full of funeral carriages.

There's no accounting for taste though and this macabre museum has become an unlikely hit with visitors.

Perhaps it has something to do with the sense of adventure in finding it. Visitors have to report to the city's Municipal Funeral Services from where they will be guided to the basement by a security guard and the exhibition unlocked.

Or maybe it's the eerie silence that hangs heavy as you make your way around the exhibit's ornate carriages, which date from as far back as the 18th century and are manned by dummies (or are they?) in period costume.

Either way, the free attraction gives an insight into the Catalan capital's darker side. It will almost be a shame when the museum moves to the cemetery at Montjuic - although this doesn't look like it's happening any time soon.

More info: Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres, Carrer Sancho de Avila 2, 00 34 93 484 17 00

Exhibits from the Dog Collar Museum in Leeds

Barking mad? The Dog Collar Museum in Leeds claims to display a 'unique collection of historic and fascinating dog collars'

Torture Museum, AmsterdamTulips and torture anyone? The Dutch capital is a multi-layered destination where pretty canals, world-beating art museums and historic sites sit alongside cannabis cafes and the infamous Red Light District.

Those looking for a side-serving of horror with their city break might find the Torture Museum holds the key.

With its darkened rooms and uncomfortable ambiance, the exhibit hopes to ‘document the history of human cruelty’ – just what you need on your holidays

Introducing the world tourism weirdest museums...Gruesome: Amsterdam’s Torture Museum documents the history of human cruelty

Gruesome displays including a rusty guillotine, stretching tables, screws to crush your fingers, your head and any other body part and a chair of nails – just some of the instruments that will leave you grateful you live in 21st century Europe.

Anyone perplexed by what some instruments were used for will be enlightened by detailed explanations and old paintings showing how they were used to inflict maximum pain – the picture of how an old saw was used will have male visitors crossing their legs.

Fascinating and with a serious message, the museum points out to departing tourists that the USA still employs executioners and the death penalty still exists in countries around the world, begging the question, how much have times really changed?

Vent Haven: Ventriloquist Museum, KentuckyDummy Image by andrewmalone

Thanks to Chucky, doll-related objects have suffered a hard rap over the years. Logic aside, there really is something unsettling about a ventriloquist’s dummy. The expressive unblinking eyes, the waxy cheeks…it’s all just so unnatural. The founders of the Haven: Ventriloquist Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky may just disagree. Touring the museum, you’ll see room after room of dummies of all shapes and sizes and learn things you never knew. You’ll even get the opportunity to pose with a classroom of dummies…if you dare.

Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, Minnesota

Questionable Medical Device Image by A.M. Kuchling

To get a glimpse into the minds of some rather creative characters, visit this medical museum in Minnesota, also known as ‘The Quackery Hall of Fame’. On display are some very questionable inventions, including a foot-powered breast enlarger, weight reduction glasses, a phrenology machine, weight loss soap and a prostate gland warmer. Perhaps it’s really not that weird – we’ve all fallen for some bogus miracle cure at some point…right? Right?

Chamberpot Museum, Munich

Chamberpot Image by Patricia Hofmeester

Ever wondered how the ladies in Pride and Prejudice managed their err, toiletry needs? No, me either. Nevertheless, a trip to the Nachttopf Museum and the Bourdaloue Museum in Munich will open your eyes to the wonderful world of chamberpots and bourdaloues. From the intricately beautiful to the purely practical, you’ll get to gaze upon hundreds of these specimens – you lucky thing, you.

Museum of Bad Art, Massachusetts

Museum of Bad Art Image courtesy of the Museum of Bad Art According to its website, this museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting and celebrating bad art. Go figure. From landscapes to nude portraits, the exhibition showcases the works of unfortunate souls or ‘artists’, whose hard work and efforts have led them to a place in this fabulous establishment. On another note, is it weird that I think some of the works are actually pretty good?

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum, Yokohama

There are many things that Japan doesn’t consider a big deal, like trains that travel at the speed of sound and robots that make kebabs. Another is museums dedicated to instant noodles, of which the country currently has two. And while Osaka’s Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is just as popular, this museum-slash-amusement park comes out on top thanks to its full-scale replica of part of downtown Tokyo, where instant ramen was invented back in 1958.Open 11am-10pm daily. Admission ¥300 adults, ¥100 children and seniors. 2-14-21, Shinyokohama, Kohoku, Yokohama, Kanagawa (+81 454 71 0503)

Carrot Museum, Liège

While we’re not quite sure how Belgium earned its reputation as Europe’s dullest nation, what we do know is that this museum of pointy orange vegetables certainly isn’t helping matters. It’s a mercifully brief experience, at least – the room itself being inaccessibly tiny, visitors simply turn a wheel to make a series of exhibits move along a conveyor belt inside a cabinet. Gripping.Open daily. Admission free. Berlotte, Eyantten, Liège

Giant Shoe Museum

Located in the famous Pike Place Market of Seattle, the Giant Shoe Museum is a single exhibit wall located on the outside of the Old Seattle Paperworks store and brings a lot of business to the shop as a result. To see the museum’s collection, visitors must drop quarters into coin boxes and then look through stereoscope viewing slots that reveal views of a variety of giant shoes including a size 37 shoe worn by the world’s tallest man, a real clown shoe and the world’s largest collection of giant shoes.

Washington Banana Museum

Ann Mitchell Lovell really loves bananas. In fact, she loves them enough to not only run the Washington Banana Museum, which features almost 4000 items related to the world’s best-selling fruit, but to also upload photos of her favorite items from the museum online so those who can’t make it to the physical location can still enjoy the virtual Banana Museum.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

The only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to parasites, the Meguro Parasitological Museum would be a great place to do research for that horror film you’ve been working on. The first floor merely shows where different parasites live in Japan, but once you head upstairs, the real horror show starts, featuring samples of parasites including the world’s longest tapeworm—which measures almost 29 feet long—and photos of people and animals infested with parasites.

Roswell UFO Museum

Was it a weather balloon or something more? While the Roswell UFO Museum merely asks that you keep an open mind and ask as many questions as possible about the Roswell incident of 1947, the name should tell you that the curators have already made up their minds about what was spotted in the sky that fateful night.

Exhibits include information on the event, crop circles, other UFO sightings, Area 51, and abductions. Regardless of your personal opinion about UFOs, there’s no denying that the museum has been quite successful: Since it opened its doors in 1992, it has outgrown two different locations, and now occupies an old movie theater.

International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum

No one likes having their car towed away because they parked somewhere they shouldn’t, but if you’ve ever been helped out by a tow truck when your car has broken down in the middle of nowhere, then you know just how useful the service can be. For those who have experienced the latter enough to develop adoration for towing, a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee might be in order so you can visit the Museum of Towing. Here you can learn all there is to know about the rich history of towing and some of the industry’s most famous individuals.

Museum Vrolik, Netherlands

An Amsterdam family's collection of medicine and anatomy includes so-called mermaid fetuses and preserved conjoined twins among its 10,000 or so items.
Bart's Pathology Museum, England

This London museum houses nearly 5,000 medical oddities including various random objects pulled from human bodies in the past 150 years.
Museum of Human Disease

The Museum of Human Disease contains over 2,500 specimens (also known as "pots"), which display diseased human tissue preserved in formalin. Specimens are obtained both from organs removed surgically and from tissue obtained at the autopsies of those who have donated their bodies to science.
Fragonard Museum, France

Horses, monkeys and even human fetuses are on display at this anatomy collection that was originally started for veterinary students in the 18th century. Don't plan for lunch afterward.
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