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Offbeat Museums

Offbeat Museums - Some of the Nation's Quirkiest Museums

Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia

The Pez candy was created by Austrian Eduard Haas in 1927, as a mint for adults trying to quit smoking (Pez is the abbreviation of peppermint in German: PfeffErminZ). Character heads were added to Pez dispensers in 1952. Currently there are hundreds of different models (there is some disagreement on the total). Pez-lover Gary Doss has most of them, ordered in neat rows in his Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia. Rarities in his collection include a 1952 Mickey Mouse (possibly the first character head), Mary Poppins, a 1963 astronaut, and one of only ten make-a-face Pez dispensers (these Mr. Potato Head-like dispensers were recalled and crushed because the small parts posed a choking hazard). Doss keeps another Pez rarity off the shelf—a counterfeit Hitler dispenser, one of 50 or so hand-painted and sold by mail until Pez lawyers cracked down. For more Pez information visit online at http://www.spectrumnet.com/pez/

Museum of Funeral Customs

Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield

Located at the entrance of Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, it's educational, it's quirky, it's respectful, it's fun and it's one of just a few in the world.

Here are a few of the exhibits:

  • Re-created 1920s "Operating" or Embalming Room

  • Re-created Middle-class American Home Funeral Setting, circa. 1870

  • Horse-drawn Hearses that show City and Rural Funeral Service

  • Embalming Equipment and Instruments

  • Caskets and Coffins that Represent Changing Tastes and Designs

  • Portable Funeral Equipment

  • Examples of Post-mortem Photography

  • Full-sized Reproduction of Abraham Lincoln's Coffin

  • Scale Model of Lincoln's Railroad Coach and Chicago Funeral Arch

Don't forget to check out the yummy chocolate coffins (both milk & dark) & wide selection of books on death, dying and mourning customs. For more information visit, www.funeralmuseum.org

The Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum

Cockroach Hall of Fame

If you're looking for something a little unusual then it doesn't get more unusual than this. The Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum fills the "dead bugs dressed as celebrities and historical figures" void in your life. Located in Plano, Texas in The Pest Shop (a pest control business, the museum exhibit consists of several dioramas featuring dead roaches dressed as famous people doing famous things. Some of the more popular ones include: "Liberoache", "The Bates Roach Motel", and "David Letteroach." The owner, Micheal "Cockroach Dundee" Bohdan usually sports a fedora lined with dead roaches and has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee," "CNN Headline News," and more!

Another great feature is the opportunity to sample some "Larvets Original Worm Snacks", which are seasoned insect larva (try the BBQ flavor!). So after looking at the dead bug displays you can eat some dead bugs! Finally, a place that has it all!

For all the facts you need to know before you go, click here

Museum of Colorado Prisions

In contrast to the staid Sing Sing Museum, the Colorado Territorial Museum flaunts its lurid appeal. Priding itself as one of the "Hell Holes of the Old West," the institution boasts of its history: 77 executions (45 by hanging, 32 by gas), sensational escapes by cold-blooded killers, and inmates such as Alfred Packer, the only man convicted of cannibalism in the U.S.

Museum of Colorado Prisons

The collection includes cells filled with exhibits and life-sized models. Other artifacts include the actual hangman's noose of the last man executed by hanging in the state of Colorado, confiscated inmate weapons and contraband, the gas chamber, and rare, historic photographs depicting life behind bars. Displays of disciplinary paraphernalia are an added bonus for the whip cracking set. To find out more, visit http://www.prisonmuseum.org/

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
Located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, this museum 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 favorites.

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! Taking you back in time, http://marvin3m.com/

Mister Ed's Elephant Museum
At Mister Ed's Elephant Museum, the question is not what you will see but what you will not. With some 6,000 pieces to browse, you'll come across everything from an elephant potty chair to an elephant hair dryer. When you're sure you've had your fill of elephants, why not fill your belly with their favorite food—peanuts? In his spare time, Mister Ed travels the country selling roughly 25 tons of roasted peanuts at various events throughout the year. If you prefer sweet tastes to salty ones, visit the candy store and indulge in your choice of over 200 kinds of old-fashioned confections. Finally, stop into the gift shop to pick up a memento, but be warned: your visit will most likely be memorable enough on its own.

Mister 
Ed's Elephant Museum

Ed Gotwalt, the man behind the museum, got his very first elephant as a wedding gift from his sister-in-law. Honeymooning with his wife in Williamsburg, Mister Ed picked up two more, and at a flea market on the way home, he bought yet another pair. Thirty-three years and 6,000 elephants later, Mister Ed is sharing his quirky collection with the public, free of charge. See more elephants, http://www.mistereds.com/


Museum of Jurassic Technology
The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, California is an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic.

Like a coat of two colors, the Museum serves dual functions. On the one hand the Museum provides the academic community with a specialized repository of relics and artifacts from the Lower Jurassic, with an emphasis on those that demonstrate unusual or curious technological qualities. On the other hand the Museum serves the general public by providing the visitor a hands-on experience of "life in the Jurassic." Get more Jurassic information available at http://www.mjt.org

Troll Museum
Venturing to New York? While you're there, stop by the Troll Museum to visit with those creepy, but lovable, fuzzy-haired figurines that have been so popular. For more information click here.

Spy Museum
Read our Spy Museum Review click here.

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