Museums Don’t Always Have to Involve Art, War History or Just Plain Old Stuff. Here Are Some of The Oddest, Stomach Churning and Weird Museums for Teens Around the World That They Will No Doubt Find Fascinating.
I don’t know about you, but I must admit that I’ve had to bribe my daughter a couple of times in our travels just so I can have some peace in a world-renowned museum. At the Musee D’Orsay in Paris I promised ice cream for breakfast in return for uninterrupted time to gawk at the sculpture of Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer”. Well it sure was worth it! But museums around the world are changing. They are no longer old stuffy buildings housing boring artefacts. They are now interactive, gory, scary, just plain quirky, and sometimes even disgusting. So, if you’re looking for weird museums for teens in the hope of engaging with them during your travels, the list below will hopefully inspire you.
TRAVEL TIPS YOU WILL FIND:
- #01 – THE MUSEUM OF THE MUMMIES, GUANAJUATO, MEXICO
- #02 – LIVING COMPUTERS MUSEUM, SEATTLE, USA
- #03 – UPSIDE DOWN MUSEUM, MANILA, PHILIPPINES
- #04 – THE OLD OPERATING THEATRE, LONDON, UK
- #05 – MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, ZAGREB, CROATIA
- #06 – MUSEUM OF TOILET HISTORY, KIEV, UKRAINE
- #07 – MONA, HOBART, AUSTRALIA
- #08 – COMPUTERSPIELEMUSEUM, BERLIN, GERMANY
- #09 – PHILOLOGICAL (PENIS) MUSEUM, REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
- #10 – MUSEUM OF OPTICAL ILLUSIONS, LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA
- #11 – BODIES MUSEUM, LAS VEGAS, USA
- #12 – THE MUSEO CANARIO, LAS PALMAS, SPAIN
- #13 – MUSEUM OF WITCHCRAFT, CORNWALL, UK
- #14 – NEON MUSEUM, WARSAW, POLAND
- #15 – MUTTER MUSEUM, PHILADELPHIA, USA
- #16 – POOSEUM, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA
- BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES
#01 – THE MUSEUM OF THE MUMMIES, GUANAJUATO, MEXICO
Adventurous teens will adore the creepy mummy museum in the gorgeous colonial city of Guanajuato, Mexico. While this attraction is not for the faint of heart, the mummies provide a fascinating glimpse into both colonial and contemporary Mexico. They are a beloved part of Mexican pop culture and have even starred in several horror films!
The museum displays more than 100 naturally mummified bodies. The mummies are of all ages and sizes and include the smallest mummy in the world, a foetus from a pregnant cholera victim. A room of baby mummies dressed in lacy burial gowns is particularly perturbing.
The mummies are the corpses of victims interred during an 1833 cholera epidemic. Later, the city began levying a grave tax from relatives of the deceased. A failure to pay meant those bodies were dug up and evicted from the cemetery. When the corpses were exhumed, gravediggers were shocked to observe they had been naturally mummified due to Guanajuato’s arid conditions.
Graveyard workers began charging the curious to view the mummies. The state government eventually caught on to the potential for profit and opened the museum, now one of Mexico’s most infamous tourist attractions. – Ingrid Truemper @ Second-Half Travels
#02 – LIVING COMPUTERS MUSEUM, SEATTLE, USA
When it comes to unique museums in Seattle, nothing beats the Living Computers Museum + Labs, located in South Seattle. The city of Seattle is well-known for its thriving tech industry and is home to companies like Microsoft and Amazon. Started from the private collection of Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, the Living Computers Museum + Labs has since grown into a multi-level museum.
The main floor is dedicated to robots and computers that kids can interact with and learn. Teens can experiment with building robots of their own and programming them to do fun actions. The second level of the museum houses computers dating back to the 1960’s and 1970’s! The Living Computers Museum + Labs regularly maintains and renovates these computers, so that they are still operational for future visitors. You can play old games on microcomputers like the Atari 400 or the Apple IIe, or see what a floppy disk actually looks like. – Astrid Vinje @ The Wandering Daughter
#03 – UPSIDE DOWN MUSEUM, MANILA, PHILIPPINES
If your teenager is an Instagrammer, this spot takes the win! Your family will have tons of fun doing silly shots in the Upside Down Museum located in Manila, Philippines. Not to be mistaken by the scarier alternate dimension that exists in Netflix’s TV series Stranger Things, this museum is anything but that.
Housing several quirky and some oversized illusions, you can stage humorous scenes with your teens here. From floating in a room to being stepped on by a gigantic foot, let’s just say that your teenager would be looking at things in a new perspective. You are only limited by your imagination. If you do run out of ideas, the museum has staff that could suggest fun poses for you to do. They also have available photographers that you can hire for a fee. – Yamy Hartsough @ Gofamgo
#04 – THE OLD OPERATING THEATRE, LONDON, UK
The Old Operating Theatre is undoubtedly one of the quirkiest things to do in London. The oldest surviving operating theatre in Europe is tucked away in the garret of St Thomas’ Church near London Bridge. The church is the oldest surviving part of St Thomas’s Hospital and dates back to 1822.
Visiting this museum makes for a curious experience. The theatre was lost to the world for nearly 100 years, until it was rediscovered by a researcher looking into the history of the hospital. The result is that it’s remarkably well-preserved – a visit feels like a step back in time – back to the days when operations were done without anaesthetic and in the presence of tens of other medical students.
Away from the operating theatre itself, the museum displays a rather grisly array of weird medical instruments – there are even a few preserved organs in jars – it’s equal parts fascinating and gruesome. – Julianna Barnaby @ The Discoveries OfFrom poo, to old mummies to avant garde exhibits, the world is filled with quirky and gross museums for teenagers. Here's a list of the top 16 weird museums in the world! #weirdmuseums #teentravel #travelwithteens #museums Click To Tweet
#05 – MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, ZAGREB, CROATIA
Here is an entire museum dedicated to failed love relationships in Zagreb. If you have a highly emotional child, perhaps this weird museum for teens might appeal to their sense of romanticism. The museum showcases exhibits donated by past lovers that remind them of a love no longer. The exhibits are accompanied by a brief story about what happened to their relationship and why it didn’t work out.
These exhibits range from photos, an actual object or a photograph. Some of the stories were just plain hilarious whilst others were either sad or ludicrous. There is also an interactive confessional section where visitors can store their confessions in an intimate space. If you have a brooding teen going through some relationship troubles, perhaps this may be therapeutic! If you’re interested, you can even send in your contribution via their website. – Amy Chung @ Family Globetrotters
If you’re looking for a weird museum for teens, look no further than the Museum of Toilet History in Kiev, Ukraine. Located inside a 19th century fortress, this museum is literally dedicated to the history of the toilet. It goes back about 5,000 years of toilet history (yes, apparently the toilet is that old!) and includes historical evidence from Egyptian times to the medieval ages to the present day.
One of its points of pride is that it is holds the record for the largest collection of toilet souvenirs in the world. From toilet ashtrays to tobacco pipes, there are nearly 600 odd bathroom-themed souvenirs on display here. It’s a small museum and takes about 30 minutes to see in full, and costs about $2 USD, so it’s worth a quick visit in Kiev.
I recommend combining this with a visit to another quirky Kiev museum not far away, the Museum of Microminiatures, where you literally must look through a microscope to see tiny works of art, including works so microscopic they literally fit inside a strand of hair! – Allison Green @ Eternal Travel
#07 – MONA, HOBART, AUSTRALIA
The Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Australia is definitely on the weirder side. It’s a privately-owned museum, and as such is one man’s folly. There is all sorts of bits and pieces here, but what visitors won’t find is the usual paintings and sculptures you would expect to find in an art museum.
Here you will find exhibits like a bloated Porsche, or a room dedicated to 36 people singing acapella Madonna songs. Another room is pitch black, with a few small lights guiding you over stepping stones and one wrong step will leave you in a pool of water. In another room visitors can join in creating the art, by throwing glass bottles against a wall and watching the shattered glass join the pile. Tattoo Tim sits on display all day with a magnificent tattoo on his back. There is a machine that poops, and a waterfall showing the most popular words today on the internet, a sparkly padded grotto and a reflective pool of oil. No doubt these quirky exhibits and installations will appeal to the non-conventional teenager.
It is absolutely worth a visit but expect to spend much of the time wondering exactly what it is you are looking at. – Josie Kelsh @ Josie Wanders
#08 – COMPUTERSPIELEMUSEUM, BERLIN, GERMANY
If you’re travelling with teens (or teens at heart) and are looking for a truly unique and fun Berlin activity for a cold winter day, we recommend heading to the Computerspielemuseum in Karl Marx Allee. This museum is dedicated to the history and development of computer games, from the first games with just flickering lights to classics like Tetris and Pacman, all the way to the newest virtual reality games. The cool thing about the museum is that each exhibit is an actual videogame that you can play as long as you want – provided there’s no one else waiting to have a go!
There’s a full 1980s style arcade with some of the best videogames from that decade, the replica of a teen’s bedroom with the first Nintendo console where you can play the first Super Mario, lots of racing games and so much more. Those that are actually interested in the history of videogames (and don’t just want to play!) will also find the museum interesting and informational. Just don’t plan to do anything else on the day you visit, as no doubt you’ll spend hours inside! – Margherita Ragg @ The Crowded Planet
#09 – PHILOLOGICAL (PENIS) MUSEUM, REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
The capital of Iceland is home to many things, the weirdest of which is surely the Icelandic Philological Museum. Yes, you read that correctly… a Penis Museum. If you giggled at that as much as I did, you’re in for a surprise… this is actually one of the most disturbing museums I’ve ever set foot in!
Originally intended to be a light-hearted and funny trip, our smiles were exchanged for wide-eyed grimaces when we were faced with dozens and dozens of preserved phalluses suspended in glass containers. That’s right… a bunch of animal dicks in jars. From sperm whale to bull to zebra to seal, they really had it all – and you could read a little blurb about each one if you wanted.
The human phallus is really what sealed our fate though – someone really did die and ask to have their ‘family jewels’ preserved inside a museum. You can read more about my hilarious experience there here. The Penis Museum is not for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely a fascinating visit. If you’re easily grossed out, maybe keep toward the back section where they point out funny phallus-shaped toys, landmarks, maps, and more. Oh, and make sure to leave with a funny souvenir – I’m sure you can imagine what kinds of things would be in this gift shop! – Kimberley Conner @ Adventures n Sunsets
#10 – MUSEUM OF OPTICAL ILLUSIONS, LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA
This museum will bend your mind! Located in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, its three floors of brain teasing, optical illusions. The Muzej iluzij (Museum of Optical Illusions) is just off Kongresni Trg right in the centre of the old city. It’s one of the cheapest family days out we have had, coming in a €23.50 (at the time of writing) for a family ticket. Trying to beat this price for a family entrance anywhere in the world is tricky.
In this environment every member of the family can explore the rooms at their own pace taking as much time as they need to work out the conundrums. The puzzles and games will leave you wondering. So, what will you find inside this brain popping museum? The Endless Mirror room, where you can see yourself a gazillion times, the Vortex tunnel that makes your world spin endlessly or perhaps you will love the holograms, sterogram (3D pictures) and upside-down room.
My personal favourite is the walls of faces that follow you wherever you move. Its eerie! – Rosina Dimech @ Find the Map
#11 – BODIES MUSEUM, LAS VEGAS, USA
The Bodies Museum in Las Vegas houses real-life corpses of unclaimed bodies which had been deemed suitable for science. The bodies have then been dissected in almost every angle possible in a dramatic fashion. Some bodies are almost intact, whereas others have their skin removed revealing only muscle sinew. One is split completely down the middle from head to toe, revealing all the internal organ structures.
Some exhibits can pretty be confronting so if you are taking your teen a bit of pre-warning may be necessary. Although, for anyone interested in anatomy it is truly fascinating and there is much to learn for the budding medical student.
The bodies have been through a process of plastination which preserves the skin and muscle tissue. There has been some controversy over claims that the bodies, which come from China, were obtained illegally. Although the exhibit strongly denies this. – Warren Dobe @ Sling Adventures
#12 – THE MUSEO CANARIO, LAS PALMAS, SPAIN
The Museo Canario is a pretty interesting museum – on the surface at least. I went in expecting to learn more about how the island was settled and understand its flora and fauna as well as also find the answer to the burning question – is Gran Canaria really named after a dog species?
Well, I failed spectacularly, partly because the museum doesn’t answer the my question nor is there a lot of fauna to discover. Instead, the museum offers the daily objects used by the Guanches, the local inhabitants of the island before the island was conquered by Spanish settlers. One particular room though, has nothing to do with Spaniards or Guanches.
The Museo Canario contains the largest collection of Cro-Magnon skulls displayed in glass cases and walking past these skulls is a surreal experience. It is not for the faint of heart, let me assure you given the semi-dark lighting in the room. There are literally hundreds of skulls on either side of a long room.
Located in the historic quarter of Las Palmas, the museum is open throughout the week and entry requires a small fee. The only real question is whether you’ll allow your inner Dark Tourist free reign? – Priyanko Sarkar @ Constant Traveller
A few facts need to be acknowledged. If you come to London, you should really try to squeeze in a whirlwind three-day tour of Cornwall – because it’ll be worth it. And, if you get anywhere near Boscastle, you need to check out the Museum of Witchcraft – because you won’t have seen anything else like it.
As you approach the pretty cottage museum, you’ll get into the spirit of things with fresh herbs in the garden, each marked with a label that shows how it’s used in traditional witchcraft. Plus, there’s a broomstick – just for fun, and pentagrams painted on the walls.
Inside, the first floor is dotted with every curio and witchy artefact you could ever wish for, tracing a history that goes back a long way. But upstairs things get even more unique with objects recovered from local houses that show signs of real Cornish folk magic and witchcraft being practised. Books full of real spells, ancient symbols, you’ll get a window into another world. – Danielle Lawson @ Livein10countries
#14 – NEON MUSEUM, WARSAW, POLAND
Neon Museum is one of the most interesting and best Warsaw museums and is often considered a must place to visit when travelling to the capital of Poland. Colourful neon signs have been a big part of Polish (and Eastern European in general) urban scene back in the Soviet times but in the recent years they started to disappear from the public space. That’s when a group of enthusiasts decided to save the beautiful neon signs.
Shortly after the museum was created, it quickly became one of the most popular and unusual attraction in Warsaw. Even if there are already few neons hanging around on the premises of Soho Factory, where the museum is located, stepping inside the building is like coming into the colourful world of old times.
There are numerous neon signs from all over Poland, renovated and shining. You can learn about the history of the neon signs in Eastern Europe, the technology how they are made, and you can admire some really beautiful shapes and colours here. Don’t miss the Neon Museum when you visit Warsaw! – Kamila Napora @ My Wanderlust
#15 – MUTTER MUSEUM, PHILADELPHIA, USA
The Mutter Museum is probably one of the weirdest medical museums I’ve ever visited. It is part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, one of the most elite medical schools in the United States. What started in mid 1800s for educational and research, becomes one of the most bizarre collection of human oddities – right in the middle of the city center.
Mutter Museum’s collection is simply impressive, and only a fraction of the collection is on display. You can view some of the world’s intriguing human varieties and specimens, such as Slices of Albert Einstein’s brain, the Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker’s liver, and the 7’-6” tall skeleton of the Mutter American Giant. The list goes on and on.
While it may not be for everybody’s enjoyment, there are reduced rate for students and children that you can utilize as appropriate. – Halef & Michael – The Round the World Guys
#16 – POOSEUM, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA
“Here at the Pooseum, talking about poo is not taboo” – Pooseum. With an opening like that, how could one resist? Yup, Australia has its very own museum about faeces and this will no doubt tickle the fancy of any teenager. Located in the historic town of Richmond, just outside of Tasmania’s capital city, Hobart, it sure is a weird museum for teens.
Pooseum is in fact a bondafide science museum, dedicated to learning about animal droppings. Sorry, no human waste available here, or unfortunately for some. Did you know that koala joeys (baby koalas) eat their mother’s droppings or that South Africans put antelope droppings in their mouth? Gross!
Don’t underestimate the power of poo. Pooseum also houses fossilised dinosaur faeces if you’re interested in some Jurassic history and how it’s used to understand their diet. It’s a small and quaint museum so if you’re ever in the area, drop in and get to know your poo! – Amy Chung @ Family Globetrotters
Did you come across anything that your teen might find amusing? Surely from a list that spans across poo, mummies, video games and penises, there is at least one weird museum for teens that would take their fancy? Even if they don’t think they might enjoy it, I encourage you to take them anyway. You never know, they might just like it!
BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES
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