I am a self-proclaimed museum advocate. Gone are the days when visiting a museum meant being dragged round for five hours with mum and dad; with age I have come to appreciate them as not just informative and educational but also interesting and entertaining.
Similarly, with travel and experience I have come to appreciate the incredible diversity of museums on offer which can cater to all manner of niche interests. Here is a little countdown of three museums I have visited which are both unusual and entertaining in equal measure.
1) Laurel & Hardy Museum, Ulverston, Cumbria (formerly Lancashire).
True, it has been many years since I visited this museum on a family holiday, but it is one that certainly has stuck in my mind. Ulverston seems like a quite surprising location for a museum dedicated to one of comedy’s most iconic duos, but this small Cumbrian market town is actually where Stan Laurel was born back in 1890. While small, the museum offers visitors to discover the history of Laurel & Hardy with their black and white films playing on loop. While having a niche target market, this museum is a must for any England-based fans of the duo.
2) Red Light Secrets, Amsterdam.
Obviously a museum dedicated to prostitution would be in Amsterdam. There’s no surprises there. Red Light Secrets, however, differs greatly from fellow coitus museums in the Netherlands’ capital, such as the museum dedicated to erotica and the Temple of Venus, in that it offers a surprisingly factual and informative journey into the sex industry in Amsterdam and beyond. While the other two aforementioned museums are regarded often as gimmicky stops for stag-dos, Red Light Secrets actually has a very broad appeal. Following walking through rooms laid out like a brothel, the museum provides very interesting information on the legalities of the industry, such as the use of contraceptives, average wages and the mechanisms in place to protect the safety of the sex-workers. The final rooms of the museum offer an insight into global sex trafficking and explain the violence, abuse and manipulation faced by some workers in the industry. Included in this is a harrowing memorial to sex-workers killed around the world by their clients and pimps. For €12.50, Red Light Secrets ultimately offers a fascinating insight into what really goes on behind the windows in Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District, and explores the motivations of those who go into the industry as well as their plights.
1) Pig Museum, Stuttgart.
Located in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, this is quite frankly the weirdest museum I have ever visited. A quick Google search brings up its definition as a “quirky museum in an old slaughterhouse focused on the history, mythology & gastronomy of pigs”, which is a very accurate summary. The eccentric museum composed of more than 20 rooms dedicated to bizarre pig merchandise, grouped very loosely by themes such as the pig as a deity and the pig as a sexual icon. On display are “collectors’ pieces” including pig salt & pepper shakers, pig teapots, pig lamps, a pig sofa and even a pig car. A personal favourite was one room containing a small cupboard for each day of the year, so that you could find your own personal pig birth ornament. I similarly took a swine to a very odd display consisting of plastic toy dinosaurs with pigs’ faces melded into them; the museum has certainly provided me with many interesting pigtures to whip out at dinner parties. The Pig Museum is as strange as it gets, and I love it.