May 17, 2013 / 11:56 AM / 4 years ago

Travel Picks: Top 10 quirky museums around the world

LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - Hear the word museum and odds are
you conjure up an image of portrait halls and sculpture gardens
- the traditional home of traditional art. However, the world is
a huge, creative and even quirky place. So to satisfy those
offbeat tastes online travel adviser Cheapflights.com
(www.cheapflights.com) has come up with its Top 10 quirky
museums. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1.  Leeds Castle Dog Collar Museum, Kent, England
    A medieval manor must have dogs. And so, fittingly, Leeds
Castle, the former property of six medieval queens, has an
outstanding homage to the many hunting and gun dogs, guard
mastiffs and house pets that have been part of the storied
history of this home. The castle's collection of dog collars,
the largest of its kind, covers 500 years of canine neckwear
from spiked iron collars that protected dogs from the wilds of
the forest to highly decorated engraved silver and baroque
leatherwork pieces to the padlocked brass rings worn by service
dogs during World War II. This display began as a gift to the
dog-loving final mistress of the house, Lady Baillie, and
continues to grow through the efforts of the Leeds Castle
Foundation.
2.  International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C., USA
    How do you know what happens in the most secretive
profession in the world? Visit the International Spy Museum in
downtown Washington, D.C., for a lesson in espionage and
intrigue. With a Spy School featuring interactive exhibits on
such spycraft activities as disguise and surveillance and an
extensive display of gadgets and weapons from the field, this
collection makes the seaming unreal life of secret agents
suddenly very real. Add in history lessons on the covert role of
espionage from the Civil War through the Atomic Bomb to the full
story behind the movie "Argo," and this museum brings the
shadowy world (and impact) of professional spies into the
limelight. While there are more than enough real-life spy
stories to fill the museum, the escapades of James Bond are so
central to the realm of intrigue that a new exhibit,
"Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years Of Bond Villains," connects the dots
between fiction and fact.
3.  Venustempel Sexmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    A short walk from Central Station in Amsterdam brings you to
Venustempel (Venus Temple), the world's original sex museum.
Founded in 1985, this tour through the sensual offers more
education than titillation with rooms named for Mata Hari, the
Marquis de Sade and Oscar Wilde that offer a glimpse into sex
practices and attitudes across decades and around the world. Of
course there is no shortage of erotic displays and so, with no
restrictions on photos, the museum also offers endless
opportunities for amusing (or embarrassing) souvenir snapshots.
Just remember you must be 16 or older to enter.
4.  Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, Ottawa, Canada
    A once-secret bunker built to house leaders of the Canadian
government in the event of a nuclear war, the Diefenbunker is a
vast underground history lesson about the cold war era. The
four-story, 100,000-square-foot complex, buried under a hillside
in the village of Carp, just west of Canada's capital, was ready
to be the operational center for government. Equipped with an
"Emergency Government Situation Center," a Cabinet War Room, and
a CBC radio station as well as living quarters, a medical room
and a mess hall, this bunker brings home just how close leaders
felt we were to a nuclear catastrophe. Visitors can walk down
the long blast tunnel, see the offices and sit in the seats of
power that were all ready and waiting in the event the cold war
went hot.
5.  Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi, India
    A museum of toilets and toilet history has its lighthearted
moments. After all, potty humor isn't just for five year olds.
Still, there are important and interesting lessons to be learned
with the study of toilets, and the Sulabh Museum is the place to
learn them. The museum recounts more than 4,000 years of history
and displays artifacts dating back to 1145 AD. From the simple
and practical to the ornate and innovative, the range of
toilets, bidets, chamber pots and more tells a story of
evolution. In addition to entertaining and educating visitors,
this museum, which is an offshoot of the non-profit organization
Sulabh International, puts the focus on the real challenges of
sanitation management that have plagued the world and continue
to challenge India and the Indian culture.
6.  Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica, Slovenia
    Beekeeping! That's the story the Museum of Apiculture tells
and in a very charming way. The long-standing practice is a
cornerstone of Slovenian culture and the history is captured
here. Since opening in 1959 in a 14th century manor house in the
old part of town, the museum has been collecting and keeping
records for the region and proudly displays the contributions of
local beekeeping legends Anton Jana and Peter Pavel Glavar as
well as the introduction of Slovenian bred bee species. While
hundreds of years of innovation are on display, the most
eye-catching collection is the array of painted frontal boards
of bee hives. This folk art custom, which is unique to Slovenia,
was most popular in the early 1800s and the scenes range from
religious to political to historical to everyday living.
7.  International UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico, USA
    Roswell, New Mexico, was a sleepy corner of the country
until a rancher came upon a crash site just outside of town in
July 1947 and the questions began. The search for UFOs
(unidentified flying objects) is a passion point for many, and
this museum, which opened in 1992 and has outgrown its first two
locations, is the central point for that passion. In addition to
exhibits on the incident in 1947, visitors and researchers have
ready access to information on abductions, sightings, crop
circles and Area 51. The museum also helps host an annual
Roswell UFO Festival each year in the first week of July.
8.  Museum of Human Disease, Sydney, Australia
    Care to look death in the face? The Museum of Human Disease
is your chance! This collection of more than 3,000 specimens,
taken from diseased or dead patients, shows what the leading
causes of death in Australia really look like. The extensive
pathology exhibit (think rows of jars with organs altered by
illness, defects and tumors of every kind), housed in the
University of New South Wales School of Medical Sciences in
Sydney, is carefully catalogued and paired, when possible, with
a clinical history that tells the patient's story. With
specimens dating back more than 100 years, some diseases on
display are no longer real health threats. However, the tobacco
wall of shame is just one of the ways the museum underscores the
control we have over our bodies and our health.
9.  The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka, Japan
    The annual worldwide consumption of instant noodles hovers
around 1 billion servings. Not bad for a product only invented
in 1958. The story of the creation and global takeover of
instant noodles is told here at the Instant Ramen Museum, which
is centered around a replica of a research shack where Momofuku
Ando first created the "Chicken Ramen" that started it all.
Other highlights include a CUPNOODLES theater, shaped like the
just-add-water product Momofuku Ando brought to market in 1971,
a display of the "Space Ram" noodles developed for Japanese
astronaut Soichi Noguchi to bring on the Space Shuttle Discovery
and an exhibit of instant noodles products from around the
world. However, for the complete ramen experience, make sure to
leave time (and make a reservation) for the hands-on workshop
where visitors stretch, steam and then "flash fry" dry their own
noodles. Want to just create your own flavor concoction? Then
step into the My Cup Noodle Factory to pick your own soup recipe
and bring home a personalized cup of noodles.
10. Vulcan Tourism & Trek Station, Vulcan, Alberta, Canada
    Perhaps it's not a surprise to see a spaceship looming on
the horizon of a town named Vulcan. It is certainly a brilliant
move on the part of the town's tourism board. A tribute to the
fictional Vulcan, the home of "Star Trek's" Mr. Spock, the
out-of-this-world-shaped Vulcan Tourism and Trek Station is
chock full of memorabilia (including a set of ears donated by
Leonard Nimoy himself) from the many characters, movies and TV
shows from this legendary sci-fi franchise. With greetings
written in English, Vulcan and Klingon, a large-scale replica of
the Starship Enterprise, floor-to-ceiling space murals and
costumes and cut-outs for photo ops, there is plenty for any
Trekkie to love. Add in a chance to sit in Kirk's chair or go
through a Vulcan space adventure mission, and it's no wonder
this museum has succeeded in putting Vulcan on the map.    

 (Editing by Paul Casciato)

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