More weird museums!

By Kim O’Hare

Daredevil Gallery of Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls enjoys a rich history of Daredevils and Stuntmen, many of which conquered the Mighty Niagara Falls.

Whether by tightrope or by barrel, these amazing individuals shaped Niagara’s history in the most compelling way. The museum features several of the devices the daredevils used in their bit to beat the Falls. pictureThe Medieval Crime Museum, Rothenburg, Germany

This is the only museum of law in the European area, and is the most important collection of the history of rights there is.

Four floors, about 2000 square-metres, and more than 130 glass-cases provide a unique glance at over a thousand years of legal history.

Of prime interest are civil degradation penalties and police laws, which are very revealing with respect to the notions, laws, customs and cultures of our forefathers.

Additionally, these exhibits include instruments of torture, items used in the execution of sentences, costly books, graphic arts, documents of emperors, princes, the nobility and towns.

Among them is the Baker`s Chair (right), for bakers who sold loaves which were too small.

Visit the museum’s web site at pictureThe Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA), Dedham, Massachusetts

A community-based, private institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms and in all its glory.

Among the exhibits is Peter the Kitty by Mrs Jackson (Oil on board, 10.5"x7", acquired from Salvation Army Thrift Store, Hyde Park by Scott Wilson), which is stirring in its portrayal of feline angst.

Is Peter hungry or contemplating his place in a hungry world? The artist has evoked both hopelessness and glee with his irrational use of negative space.

MOBA was founded in the fall of 1993 and presented its first show in March 1994. The response was overwhelming. Since then, MOBA’s collection and ambitions have grown exponentially.

Initially, MOBA was housed in the basement of a private home in Boston. This meagre exhibition space limited the museum to being a regional cultural resource for the New England area.

Admission is free, and worth every penny. for more information.

The Julia C. Bulette Red Light Museum, Virginia City, Nevada.

If you’ve been on enough family trips to mock Old West towns, you’ve come to realise that there also has been something missing, something as intrinsic to the Wild-West myths as high-noon showdowns and steel-eyed lawmen - the brothel.

The Julia C. Bulette Red Light Museum fills this void with photographs, dioramas, and other exhibits detailing the life of Ms. Bulette and her Virginia City brothel.

The museum also has some interesting artefacts, including a lipstick-tube-condom-case and an antique vibrator. There are also 19th-century medical implements and poison arrows on display. An interesting museum, but maybe you should leave the kids at the “Bucket of Blood Saloon” down the street… pictureThe Glore Psychiatric Museum, St Joseph, Missouri

This institution brings to life the glorious history of psychiatric treatment through dioramas, models and reproductions.

The earliest form of therapy seems to have been administered with a sharp stick or club.

By the Middle Ages treatment encompassed public humiliation, dunking, blistering, the ever-popular bleeding, and burning at the stake.

Fortunately, by the 20th century, psychiatric treatment had evolved to include icy baths, tranquilisers, vibrating chairs, and electroshock therapy.

Some of the more interesting objects on display include the tranquilizer chair, a things-swallowed-by-patients exhibit, and a giant hamster wheel for especially energetic patients (pictured).

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices (Part of the Science Museum at Minneapolis, Minnesota)

This “Quackery Hall of Fame” may very well be the world’s largest collection of the strange gadgets people have invented to cure themselves when science and common sense have failed. pictureWhile many of the more than 250 devices are the product of turn-of-the-century quackery, you’ll probably recognize some from late-night television ads.

The devices range from the harmless, if foolish, to the outright dangerous: the spectro-chrome, which claimed to cure any ailment by the application of coloured light; magnetic pain patches; the Battle Creek Vibratory Chair (what better treatment for a “nervous disorder” than to be strapped into a wildly shaking chair?); the Revigator—a crock lined with radioactive ore for making “energetic” water.

Proprietor Bob McCoy is a veritable encyclopaedia of the world’s most inane and useless information about how to cure and/or comprehend what may ail or puzzle you.

Pictured is the Recto Rotor, “in a class by itself,” advertised as “The Latest and Most Efficient Invention for the Quick Relief of Piles, Constipation, and Prostate Trouble”. Ouch.

Museum visitors can get their heads ‘examined’ in Henry Lavery’s antique phrenology machines. The head piece, which looks like a metal basket, measures the head at 32 points per a five-point scale ranging from “Deficient” to “Very Superior.”

“Patients” get the lowdown on how they’re doing on any of 35 personality characteristics like intelligence, spirituality, suavity and chastity.

Dubbed “The Quackery Hall of Fame” by the Copley Wire Service, the museum is the world’s largest display of what the human mind has devised to cure itself without the benefit of either scientific method or common sense.

It comprises the major collections on loan from The American Medical Association, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The St. Louis Science Center, The Bakken Library, The National Council for Reliable Health Information.

More eye-openers at picture Marvin’s Marvellous Mechanical Museum, Farmington Hills, Michigan

This is a wonderland packed with animatronic dummies, model airplanes, video games, pinball machines, and kiddie rides. The video games all work, and range from classics of the early 80s to current favourites. 

The real reason to visit Marvin’s, though, is a fabulous collection of coin-operated oddities. These each have a card noting their origins and they all work.

For a mere quarter you can have the Polynesian-clad monkeys in the “Bimbo Box” play you a tune, get a fortune from the oldest gypsy fortune-telling machine (early 1900s), look through the only coin-op microscope (ca 1917), or set into motion “Harvest Time"—a farm scene hand-carved by “The Butcher of Alcatraz” (who earned his title by killing an Iowa farm family).

But whatever you do, save a quarter for the medieval torture scene… because no one expects the coin-op Spanish Inquisition! for more pictureNational Museum of Funeral History, Houston, Texas

This was established to educate the public and preserve the rich heritage of the funeral industry.

Exhibits include Civil War embalming, a Hall of Fame to honour industry icons who are responsible for contributions that have fundamentally advanced the funeral and cemetery profession.

There is also an interesting section for Fantasy Funerals, featuring fantasy coffins, such as the one pictured right - perfect for any angler!

Like many such institutions the National Museum of Funeral History is often short of funding so you might want to register for their annual NMFH golf tournament!

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