By Jennifer Olvera
At their core, museums are supposed to be informative—no matter the topic. Mind you, that topic can be downright peculiar.
At the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, see the world’s largest collection of funeral artifacts, historical hearses and coffins and caskets of bygone days. There’s a Dias de los Muertos exhibit, too. Interested in the deaths of stars? Check out the memorabilia from the processions of Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Swing by the gift shop to score t-shirts and figurines to commemorate the experience.
If you’re a commitmentphobe, check out the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. Situated in the baroque Kulmer palace, it houses everything from undies to prostheses and hatchets, all honoring the downfall of coupledom.
Do you love Spam? I mean, really love Spam? Then visit the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota, where you’ll learn about all the varieties, including bacon and jalapeno. While you’re at it, see vintage ads and test your know-how with a quiz. Best of all, it’s free of charge, so you can spend your money on gear.
Whether you’re a voice-thrower or just a curious type, the Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, may be for you. But prepare to be spooked—especially when the ghoulish Art Anteak comes into view. Founded by W.S. Berger, it features Jacko and the original Knucklehead Smiff, used by the late Paul Winchell during his ’50s and ’60s-era TV show.
Speaking of frightful, there’s always the Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo. Just make sure your gag-reflex is in check when viewing the 300-plus specimens, among them a 29-foot tapeworm from a 40-year-old man. Don’t forget to grab a preserved parasite key ring for the road.
Jennifer Olvera is a culinary travel writer, recipe developer and author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago.