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12 of the Most Bizarre Museums in the U.S.

Karla Bowsher

There just might be a museum for every fancy — whether you love pinball, the kazoo or dollhouses.

There are even museums devoted to the history of darker subjects such as funerals and witch hunts, not to mention barbed wire.

We’ve rounded up some of America’s most bizarre museums. Take a look if you’re traveling this summer to a city where one is based. You will find at least one in every corner of the county — Maine, Florida, Washington, California — and in multiple states in between.

Plus, lingering low gas prices have thus far made this summer the cheapest in years for hitting the road.

In the days leading up to Independence Day weekend, for example, the national average gas price reached lows not seen since 2005, according to AAA.

The nonprofit also reported similarly low gas prices leading up to Memorial Day weekend. So perhaps the upcoming Labor Day weekend will follow suit.

But regardless of when you next visit a museum, be it bizarre or traditional, be sure to first check out “5 Ways to Visit Top Museums Across America for Free.”

1. Dialysis Museum

More than a dozen kidney dialysis machines are among the items on display at this museum based at the nonprofit Northwest Kidney Centers in Seattle.

Collectively, the exhibits tell the history of this treatment for kidney failure. Many of the machines, which date back to the 1940s, made medical history.

2. International Banana Museum

You just might go bananas at this museum in Mecca, California. It’s home to more than 20,000 banana-related items — from staplers to ash trays to harmonicas and even a banana-shaped record player, to name just a few.

If you get hungry, take a seat at the banana bar for a banana-themed treat such as a banana split, or even a banana soda ice cream float — there are four types of banana soda to choose from.

3. International Cryptozoology Museum

The word “cryptozoology” literally means the study of hidden animals — think the Loch Ness Monster, for example.

In fact, this museum in Portland, Maine, boasts “many rare and unique pieces of remarkable evidence” of contested creatures, like hair samples from abominable snowmen and Bigfoot, and fecal matter from a yeti.

4. International UFO Museum and Research Center

Visitors have spent as long as a week or more at this museum in Roswell, New Mexico — near where one of the most infamous unidentified flying objects is believed to have crashed in 1947.

Describing itself as “the serious side of the UFO phenomena,” the museum seeks to educate the public about all things UFO.

5. Kansas Barbed Wire Museum

You’ll find more than 2,400 varieties of barbed wire — “each unique” — as well as fencing tools and equipment on display at this museum in La Crosse, Kansas.

Barbed wire fencing dates back to 1874, when Joseph Glidden designed and patented it, in case you were wondering.

6. Kazoo Museum

This museum based at the Kazoo Factory in Beaufort, South Carolina, pays homage to what it describes as one of America’s only homegrown musical instruments.

Nearly 200 unique kazoo-related items tell the history of the musical instrument — “from some of the first kazoos ever manufactured to contemporary kazoo innovation.”

Note that factory tours are also available.

7. Museum of Miniature Houses and Other Collections

This museum in Carmel, Indiana, is devoted to dollhouses as well as the miniature items that decorate dollhouse interiors.

More than 600 miniatures are on display. Exhibits, which include special collections on loan from collectors and other museums change quarterly.

8. Museum of Osteology

Osteology is the study of bones. So expect to inspect skeletons galore at this Oklahoma City museum, which recently spawned a second location in Orlando, Florida.

More than 300 skeletons, of both humans and animals, are on display at the Oklahoma museum. More than 400 animal skeletons are on display at the Orlando museum, which is called “Skeletons: Animals Unveiled.”

Note that an online discount of $3 is currently available for the new museum. Visit its website for more information.

9. National Museum of Funeral History

This Houston museum boasts America’s largest collection of historical funeral service items:

Learn about caskets and coffins, hearses through history, plus the funerals of presidents, popes, celebrities and more while you witness the cultural heritage of the funeral service industry and its time-honored tradition of compassion.

10. Plumbing Museum

Exhibits at this museum in Watertown, Massachusetts, include plumbing artifacts from as far back as the 1800s — like an antique claw-foot bathtub from 1891 and an ornate earthenware toilet typical of those that were common in the 1890s.

You’ll also find evolving plumbing systems and diagrams of various plumbing technologies. Collectively, these exhibits tell the history of piping and pay “tribute to the plumbers, engineers, and inventors whose hard work and creative spirit have contributed so much to the betterment of our society.”

11. Salem Witch Museum

This Salem, Massachusetts, museum will take you back in time to 1692. In fact, the main presentation is based on actual witch trial documents. As the museum describes it:

Visitors experience the drama of that dark time though thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting and a stirring narration as they are witness to the web of lies and intrigue of the Salem Witch Hunt.

12. Silverball Museum

This museum and arcade is located in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on the Jersey Shore. It recently opened a second location in Delray Beach, Florida.

Six-hundred classic pinball games and other arcade games rotate between the two locations — and you can play them. You purchase an entrance ticket based on the length of time you wish to spend there — from a half-hour to all day — and you can play all the games on site during that time.

Have you visited any of these museums or similarly bizarre ones? Would you want to visit any of these museums? Let us know which ones below or over on our Facebook page.

This article was originally published on MoneyTalksNews.com as '12 of the Most Bizarre Museums in the U.S.'.

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