Classic masterpieces, ancient artefacts, and expensive gift shops - you might think you've seen everything museums have to offer.
But in honour of International Museum Day (May 18), we’ve rounded up seven of the most unique and unusual museums around the world.
From underwater art to pastel-coloured poop, these museums are worth visiting for the novelty value alone.
International Cryptozoology Museum: Maine, USA
What better place to start our list than with cryptozoology – the search for and study of animals whose existence is disputed. This bizarre, one-of-a-kind museum has exhibits on all manner of strange and folkloric creatures, from Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman to the coelacanth and P. T. Barnum’s Feejee Mermaid.
The collection boasts a range of life-size models, supposed hair samples and footprint casts, plus a range of artefacts and memorabilia that kids will love exploring.
Get lost in legend at cryptozoologymuseum.com
Museum of Broken Relationships: Zagreb, Croatia
While broken relationships might seem like an unusual thing to memorialise in a museum, this creative art project has exploded in popularity since its inception in 2006. Consisting of a diverse range of mementoes donated by anonymous contributors, each one is accompanied by a story of heartbreak to explain its significance.
Exhibits include everything from letters, drawings and cuddly toys, to an axe used to destroy the furniture of a cheating girlfriend. The museum’s creators came up with the idea after their own breakup, as a form of catharsis and an exploration of love and loss.
Explore the stories at brokenships.com
Cat Cabinet: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
If you’re more of a cat person, this quirky museum will be right up your alley. Specialising in cat-themed art, this historic building beside Herengracht canal is packed full of paintings, posters and sculptures of our fluffy feline friends.
It was established in memory of the founder’s own cat, a ginger tom named JP Morgan, and there’s a section of the museum dedicated to him. The best part is that the museum has five resident cats who roam the galleries and hallways, and they’re happy to be petted by visitors.
Admire the kitten-filled collection at kattenkabinet.nl
Underwater Museum of Art: Cancun, Mexico
This haunting and beautiful outdoor art museum is located deep in the turquoise waters surrounding Cancun and Isla Mujeres, within the Mexican National Marine Park. Over 500 sculptures sit on the sea bed and double as artificial reefs to promote the growth of coral and attract marine life.
The statues are intended to examine how humans interact with the environment in both a positive and negative way, promoting marine conservation and countering the impact of climate change. This innovative gallery can be explored through scuba diving, snorkelling or glass-bottomed boat tours.
Dive in at musamexico.org
The Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures: Paris, France
Billed as the world’s only vampire museum, this is the passion project of vampirologist and Bram Stoker translator Jacques Sirgent. Behind its scarlet entrance you’ll find all sorts of vampire-related paraphernalia, including ancient texts, a stuffed vampire bat, pop culture collectibles, and an anti-vampire protection kit from the 19th century.
Sirgent is happy to talk you through all the pieces and share his extensive knowledge on the subject. Note that as this is a private museum, visits must be booked online in advance.
Sink your teeth in at artclips.free.fr/musee_des_vampires
The Dog Collar Museum: Kent, England
Located within the majestic Leeds Castle in Kent, this unique museum is dedicated entirely to dog collars. It has over 130 rare and valuable canine accessories on display, including some which date back to the 15th and 16th centuries.
There are bulky, spiked metal collars designed to protect canine companions from bears and wolves, as well as ornate silver and gold ones from the Baroque period and the 19th century. There are also some modern styles included in the collection, in case you’re looking for some neckwear inspiration for your own pup.
Walk through doggie history at leeds-castle.com
Unko Museum: Tokyo, Japan
For something genuinely weird and wonderful, the Unko Museum in Tokyo is hard to beat. ‘Unko’ literally translates to ‘poop’, but what’s on display here is thankfully nothing like the real thing! The surreal, interactive exhibitions put a kawaii (cute) spin on poo, transforming it into what looks more like brightly-coloured, soft-serve ice cream. There are games to play, Instagrammable photo spots, a ball pit, a souvenir shop and plenty of poop-related facts to learn. We’re quite certain that it will rank as one of the strangest and most memorable museums you’re likely to visit.
Flush your inhibitions at unkomuseum.com
Please note that there are currently travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19. Depending on which country you visit, museums, hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions may be closed. Always check government advice before making any bookings.