International Museum Day: A break from the banal

Outlandish, offbeat & original museums around the world
/ New Delhi
International Museum Day: A break from the banal

The Lindt Home of Chocolate in Switzerland located near lake Zurich is a paradise for chocolate lovers from all around the world

From creepy mummies to one of the largest chocolate fountains in the world, some museums offer an experience different from the mundane prestigious establishments in beautiful buildings like a Tate, Louvre or Uffizi and entice visitors from all around the world owing to their sheer novelty alone.
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When one thinks of a museum, images of prestigious posh buildings featuring works of acclaimed artists or artefacts dating back to early era civilizations tracing its history and culture come to mind. However, not all museums are created equal. There are a lot of unconventional, bizarre museums around the world which allow visitors to experience something novel and unique owing their odd architecture or strange subject matter.

Here is a list of some of the most unique and fairly quirky museums around the world for your next getaway.

 Cancun Underwater Museum of Art, Mexico

The Cancun Underwater Museum or Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA)

Constructed in 2009, the biggest underwater museum in the world nestled between the islands of Cancun and Isla Mujeres, The Cancun Underwater Museum or Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) is a site worth visiting. Home to 500 sculptures fixed to the sea floor, the museum draws nearly 750,000 tourists every year.

The eerily beautiful sculptures on display portray varying themes ranging from capitalist greed to lives of fishermen. The underwater sculptures created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor and local Mexican sculptors also serve as an artificial reef specially designed to promote growth of coral, which continually transforms the aquatic landscape. Tourists can explore this underwater wonderland by glass bottom boat, snorkelling, or scuba diving.

The Mummy Museum, Mexico

Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato

Also known as the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato, this museum is home to mummies and is located in the small mining town of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As the large number of mummies found at the site started to gain popularity, the museum was set up to showcase them. The mummies on display are of bodies buried in the Santa Paula Pantheon’s crypts during the mid-19th century. It was later discovered that the bodies had been mummified through a natural process, likely due to the region’s unique climactic factors. The ghoulish corpses, including those of infants look much grimmer than the mummies excavated in Egypt.

Over a hundred mummies are on display at the museum including the smallest one in the world.

The Museum of Gold, Colombia

The Museum of Gold, locally known as El Museo del Oro

The Museum of Gold, also known locally as El Museo del Oro, situated in the heart of Bogotá is possibly the most famous tourist site in Columbia attracting half a million visitors every year. In 2018, National Geographic magazine named it one of the best museums in the history of the planet, next to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum (Poland), the Vatican museums (Italy), and the Pergamon Museum, among others. The museum has more than 55,000 pieces of gold and other materials such as pottery, stone, shell, wood, and textile objects from Colombia’s pre-Hispanic culture, displayed in thematic rooms covering three floors. One of the most famous exhibits in the museum is the Musica Raft, renowned due to its connection with the legend of El Dorado, which people believe was the mythical city of gold but actually refers to a mythical tribal chief of the Muisca people, informally called The Golden Man. The renowned relic is a miniature model of this Golden Man.

Museum of Sex, USA

The Museum of Sex, New York

The Museum of Sex, in New York, opened in 2002 with the intent of preserving the history, evolution, and cultural significance of human sexuality. The museum’s permanent collection hosts over 20,000 artefacts comprising of works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions and historical ephemera.

It also houses a research library as well as an extensive multimedia library, which includes 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, BETA, VHS and DVDs. Since its inception, this museum has held over 30 exhibitions and 6 virtual installations. New York Magazine described a visit to this museum similar to “a Willy Wonka sex dream,” where one can treat his/her inner kid-adult to a round in the outlandish Bouncy Castle of Breasts or admire vintage erotic photography.

Lindt Home of Chocolate, Switzerland

The Lindt Home of Chocolate, Switzerland

The Lindt Home of Chocolate in Switzerland located near lake Zurich is a paradise for chocolate lovers from all around the world owing to its interactive chocolate world which has a 9-metre high chocolate fountain with over 1500 kg of chocolate flowing through it, along with a multimedia museum, a café, chocolate making courses and the biggest Lindt shop in the world. The museum also has interactive chocolate tours which introduces you to the Swiss cultural heritage of chocolate.

One can also create their own chocolate together with Lindt master chocolatiers. A visit to this museum is a must if you have a sweet tooth.

International Spy Museum, USA

The International Spy Museum, located in Washington DC

The International Spy Museum, located in Washington DC gives visitors a glimpse of the world of espionage and intelligence. The museum features the largest ever public collection of espionage artefacts ranging from mini cameras, counterfeit money, disguised weapons, to other noteworthy items like the lipstick pistol, also known as “kiss of death,” used by KGB femme fatales during the Cold War, the Minox spy camera, and the Aston Martin DB5 which appeared in the 1964 James Bond thriller, Goldfinger, shedding light on one of the world’s most secretive professions. The museum exhibits are divided into different categories including an interactive exhibition called Operation Spy where visitors can take on the roles of secret agents and participate in a spy stimulation.

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