Weird and wonderful museums from around the world

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Martin Andersen

16 November 2017

Time to Read


LA SPECOLA – Florence

The oldest public museum in Europe, the La Specola Museum in Florence stretches back numerous centuries and has been visited by people from all walks of life, and with a curious mind. A part of the Museum of Natural History, La Specola contains a wide range of anatomical wax figures as well as taxidermy. If, however, you expect this to be anything like Madame Tussauds, you will be in for a bit of a shock. Rather than showing celebrities in their finest, this museum has perfect wax-representations of human bodies, where some display specific body parts and organs, while other glass cases show entire bodies that look almost alive. The romantic city of Florence hides many wonderful works of art and buildings in plain sight, and while La Specola might be on the more gory part of the spectrum, it does indeed has its own air of charm to it.

La Specola


Amsterdam is known for many things, but it’s hardly famous for being a centre of torture instruments. Nevertheless, at the very heart of the city, you’ll find the rather gruelling, but highly fascinating Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments. Located right on the banks of one of the city’s most romantic canals, the inside of the museum stands at a bit of a contrast to its surroundings. Inspect some of the horrific instruments and explore the histories behind each; get back to normality on your way out with a long stroll along the beautiful canal-front.

Amsterdam Torture Museum


A crimson faceted building with golden studs on the outer walls and a roof crowned by giant eggs, nothing could be a more fitting place for the works of the surrealist painter and joker, Salvador Dali. Inside you’ll find a plethora of masterpieces adorning the walls as well as the inner courtyard. Paintings and sculptures abound here, and you can wander around this dreamlike museum and just lose yourself in the weird, but wonderful imagination of this famous moustachioed painter. There is even a gift shop where you can buy your very own elephant with stilted legs. The Dali Theatre-Museum is located in the small town of Figueres, which is approximately 100km north of the Costa Brava and just two hours by train from Barcelona. If you’re a fan of surrealism, art and Dali this is a daytrip worth making, for something a bit different.

Dali Museum


What can sound like rather a depressing place, a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships is actually a pleasant and almost therapeutic experience. The museum houses an ever-growing collection of pieces submitted by anonymous people, lovescorned to various degrees, and accompanied by personal stories behind each object. The museum is the result of a project started by two artists in 2006 and is today one of Zagreb’s most popular sights. Each of the stories are displayed in Croatian and English and after exploring heartbreaks of multiple variations, you can gather your impressions in the adjacent café, where great coffee and even better Croatian baking will remind you that there’s more to life than heart ache… there is also cake. As you exit the museum, make sure you head to the nearby Vranyczanyeva Square, where you can gaze across the Croatian capital through the leaves and branches of the tranquil trees that line this picturesque park.

Museum of Broken Relationships


Most museums don’t require diving equipment to visit (although nobody at the Dali Museum would be surprised if you turned up wearing it), but the Underwater Museum off the coast of Cancun in Mexico is not like most others. Built as an attempt to guide tourists away from the endangered coral reefs, the museum is comprised by a multitude of concrete sculptures that create a really surreal underwater experience. The various artworks, all depicting different people and human forms, have already attracted a number of visitors, and interestingly enough it is not only divers that now frequent this space. The local sea life has already settled around it and is slowly turning the sculptures into a coral reef in their own right!

Underwater Museum


The world is full of art which comes in many forms, however in some cases beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. ‘Bad art’ is also something that is in abundance across the globe, and at a museum in Boston, Massachusetts, you can behold the questionable beauty of a great number of pieces with your own eyes. Divided into different genres, you can explore such great themes as the colour blue, bad portraits and unlikely landscapes. The museum is based in three different locations in and around Boston: one in the Dedham Community Centre, one located in the basement of the beautiful Somerville Theatre, and one in Tappan Street. Whether you’re heading in to one for a single dose of ‘bad art’, or indeed going for a pilgrimage to all three, then you’re in for a treat of some seriously awful pieces of work!

Museum of Bad Art
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