Did you know you can actually see a real merman and pieces of Albert Einstein’s brain? These museums are especially creepy at Halloween, but great for a weekend visit any time of year.
The Mutter Museum – Philadelphia
Here, you can see exhibits on surgical instruments and Jordan Eagle’s artwork, which uses blood for paint. Visit “The Soap Lady,” whose body has been preserved entirely in a fatty substance called adipocere — a soap mummy! On display, you’ll peer at slices of Albert Einstein’s brain and a skull collection with 139 specimens! Do you know any kids who have put a bean in their nose or ear? If so, you’ll appreciate the Chevalier Jackson Collection exhibit of 2,374 foreign bodies removed from throats, esophagi, and lungs by Dr. Jackson during his 75-year career. Fancy the unusual? The body cast of Chang and Eng Bunker, the world’s first Siamese twins, will fit the bill!
Vent Haven: Ventriloquist Museum – Fort Mitchell, Ky.
What word would you use to describe a ventriloquist dummy? Creepy? Weird? Odd? This museum is the only one in the world dedicated to ventriloquism, the act of changing your voice to make it appear to come from a place other than you! William Berger collected hundreds of ventriloquist dummies as a hobby, along with writing a magazine for ventriloquists and serving as President of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. He knows the art! See dummies that are lifelike and… not so lifelike. Watch videos and then try your hand at ‘throwing your voice’ while using a puppet just for visitors. Call at least three days ahead to schedule a time to visit this appointment-only museum with 750 dummies.
Zwaanendael Museum – Lewes, Del.
This museum is dedicated to the history of the area, which includes an early Dutch settlement. Enjoy the seafaring artifacts and information. The real (and creepy) draw to this museum, however, is the Zwaandael Merman. Yes… a merman is on display here! The mummified creature is about 1 foot long and lies on a velvet cushion. Is it real? Well, also known as the Fiji Merman, it is an example of sailor’s art. Back in the mid-19th century, sea captains visited places far and wide and often brought back things that were quite exotic to the locals. Supposedly, the merman was caught near Fiji and was exhibited by P. T. Barnum himself, the original showman!
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum – New Orleans
You won’t find any Tylenol, but you will find exhibits on how bloodletting and leeches were just a part of the mid-19th century apothecary shop. This pharmacy is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was also home to America’s first licensed pharmacist. You’ll see bottles filled with all sorts of early drugs, which were mixed by the pharmacist on the spot. See potions and gris gris bags and magical charms often in the shape of people, used by real voodoo doctors.
International Cryptozoology Museums – Portland, Maine
Cryptozoology is a really big word for the study of hidden animals — those not yet verified by science. What does that mean? There is lots of fun information on Yeti, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster! See the temporary exhibit on the Minnesota Iceman and enjoy the museum brought to life by Loren Coleman, who has studied cryptozoology for many years. The staff at this museum — the world’s first museum of its type — love to share their passion for all things mysterious. Have your photo taken with an 8-foot-tall Bigfoot model and look at casts made from footprints from something very, very large — maybe Bigfoot himself!
International UFO Museum – Roswell, New Mexico
This museum in Roswell, New Mexico, where the most famous UFO was spotted in 1947, is home to a large collection of records of sightings and details on subjects like the infamous area 51. Take photos with the exhibit of life sized aliens and their space ship! Go hungry for knowledge as this collection of recordings of eye witnesses and details on UFOs. Do you believe in aliens? This will give you plenty of creepy food for thought.
–Natalie Tanner, The Educational Tourist
Natalie Tanner, The Educational Tourist, has hundreds of thousands of miles under her belt — business trips with her geologist husband to places like Scottsdale, Jackson Hole, New York and Denver — and family adventures to far-flung destinations like Rome, Paris, Tangier, and Istanbul. When she isn’t traveling, The Educational Tourist stays busy planning the next adventure while being mom to two kids, three dogs, Sushi the fisand a hamster. Follow her adventures at The Educational Tourist.
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