Seeking more weirdo’s hoards of treasures
September 17, 2023 7:39 PM   Subscribe

My absolute favorite genre of museum/attraction is ”eccentric rich person’s oddly sorted collection of items related to their special interest(s).” I just spent part of today at the Mercer Museum and had an amazing time. What other museums, historic homes, or other attractions anywhere in the world might scratch a similar itch?

I also loved the permanent collection of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, which has a similar chaotic-but-also-painstakingly-organized vibe. The Gardner Museum in Boston is on the right track, but the art is more conventional than I prefer. The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is one of my favorite places in the world, but it’s more professionally curated/organized than the kind of thing I’m thinking of here. I desperately want to visit the House on the Rock someday, and I’m currently looking for a local friend to go to the American Treasure Tour.

What other places should I see?
posted by ActionPopulated to Travel & Transportation (81 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
Sir John Soanes
posted by jacquilynne at 7:42 PM on September 17 [19 favorites]

John's Beachcombing Museum in Forks, Washington is pretty spectacular if you are ever out that way
posted by wowenthusiast at 8:06 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]

Museo de Frederick Mares in Barcelona
posted by Geameade at 8:07 PM on September 17

The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in Berkeley California.
posted by vunder at 8:10 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]

I keep telling myself I'll go to the Toby Jug Museum someday.
posted by phunniemee at 8:12 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has what it grandly calls "The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection of Paper Ephemera". What that ACTUALLY is, though, is some dude's collection of baseball cards; it's just that it's an EXTREMELY GOOD collection, which Mr. Burdick started back in 1860.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 PM on September 17

There’s a small museum outside Lexington KY called the Headley-Whitney Museum that is exactly this.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA is not quite this but I bet you’d like it.
posted by theodolite at 8:18 PM on September 17 [7 favorites]

Hammond Castle in Massachusetts.
posted by Melismata at 8:24 PM on September 17

In Philadelphia:
The Mütter Museum of medical history
The Wagner Free Institute of Science

In Pittsburgh, in the spirit of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, there's the Center for PostNatural History
posted by moonmilk at 8:47 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]

The Pink Palace in Memphis doesn't really advertise itself as this, but when I visited in 2000 it was exactly this.

Back when it existed, the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis would have fit the bill... now it exists largely online although some of the collection is still displayed at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.

And, also in Minnesota, the Bakken is a museum created by and dedicated to one rich dude. On rare occasions they open the archives to visitors and you can see all the crazy brass-and-mahagony-era electrical devices he collected.
posted by eraserbones at 8:58 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]

Perhaps you would enjoy the dueling wunderkammern at the Menil collection and the MFAH in Houston.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 9:00 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]

The Paul Broste Rock Museum in Parshall, North Dakota has Mr. Broste's collection of rocks and minerals and his fantastic polished rock sphere displays that he made.

The Civil War Tails at the Homestead Diorama Museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania meets your criteria in spirit if not in letter. The museum is owned by twin sisters who have made, and are still making, dioramas depicting battles at Gettysburg using miniature clay models of cats that they make themselves.

The Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen, Ohio has the Schwinn family collection of bicycles. As I recall they were acquired when Schwinn went bankrupt. There's also a small collection of "stuff" that has nothing to do with bicycles. The museum, like many buildings in town, is owned by the Crown Equipment Corp. All their buildings have mirrored windows which makes walking around town a bit creepy.

The Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, Vermont has the entire collection of John Hampson's bug art mosaics, which are mosaics made of insect parts.

On preview, seconding the Wagner Free Institute.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:02 PM on September 17 [3 favorites]

If you make it to Wisconsin for the house on the rock, I'd also recommend a stop at Tommy Bartlett's exploratory. This used to be called 'Tommy Barlett's robot world' and had a bunch of 80's-era animatronics.

It's mostly an unimpressive kid's museum but 1) Bartlett totally counts as a rich eccentric, 2) the vintage tech is entertaining, and 3) when the Soviet Union collapsed Bartlett impulse bought an unlaunched module of SPACE STATION MIR and now it's there in the museum and you can climb around on it.
posted by eraserbones at 9:06 PM on September 17 [3 favorites]

The City Museum in St. Louis.
posted by carrienation at 9:08 PM on September 17 [8 favorites]

The Museo Soumaya has some truly incredible art collections on some of its floors, and its other floors include what feels like some guy's serial killer attic full of more than a hundred Rodins, a collection of gold and silver work unified pretty much only by the materials they were made of, and essentially a shrine to Kahlil Gibran. So it's about 50% this.
posted by peppercorn at 9:24 PM on September 17

Narcissa Thorne collected tiny furniture and other doll-house decorations representing different eras of European and American design, and built the Thorne Rooms, now in the basement of the Art Institute of Chicago.

They are visions of what houses looked like in various places and times in the past -- idealized and wealthy, though, because this was in the middle of the Great Depression and people wanted to fantasize about grandeur and beauty of long-ago and far-away.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:26 PM on September 17 [3 favorites]

The Chamber of Art and Wonders, at Castle Ambras near Innsbruck, Austria.
posted by sohalt at 9:29 PM on September 17

The Bayernhof Museum in Pittsburgh is a collection of music boxes and mechanical musical instruments in a really eccentric setting. (Unless I’m misremembering, it also seemed to have some creepy nazi-adjacent history that isn’t visible in the web site but came out in the tour.)
posted by moonmilk at 9:30 PM on September 17

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg Germany.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:34 PM on September 17

The Nethercutt Collection outside of Los Angeles is largely a fancy-car museum, but my 100% favorite part is the amazing collection of "automated mechanical musical instruments" such as player pianos, organs, etc. Truly amazing.
posted by samthemander at 9:38 PM on September 17

Zagreb, Croatia's Museum of Broken Relationships is a physical and virtual public space created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is a museum about you, about us, about the ways we love and lose.

At its core, the Museum is an ever-growing collection of items, each a memento of a relationship past, accompanied by a personal, yet anonymous story of its contributor. Unlike ‘destructive’ self-help instructions for recovery from grief and loss, the Museum offers the chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creativity - by contributing to its universal collection.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is an original creative art project conceived by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in 2006. It has since taken thousands of people on an empathetic journey around the world, challenging our ideas about heritage. Its original permanent location was founded in Zagreb. In 2010 it won the EMYA Kenneth Hudson Award as the most innovative and daring museum project in Europe.
posted by Homer42 at 9:44 PM on September 17 [5 favorites]

Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho. Created by a guy who started a cleaning service and wrote a few books with, you know, that 80's commercial art style on the front. Apparently he appeared on Oprah, etc., but: he also collected vacuum cleaners, and a lot of other stuff. And then he built a museum.

Did we visit the museum? Oh yes we did. Was Don one of my partner's heros? In a way, yes. What you really want to know is: did we meet Don? Oh yes we did. He's retired, and he's at the museum almost every day, apparently, and he's very approachable.

I think The Museum of Clean is exactly what you're looking for. As is:

The V & E Simonetti Historic Tuba Collection in Durham, NC. I haven't been there, but if you go, schedule your visit with them in advance.
posted by amtho at 10:22 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]

Come to New Zealand and visit the Southward Car Museum in Paraparaumu. Incredible collection built by one guy. With auditorium and everything.

It has over 450 cars.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:36 PM on September 17

Famous hunter/outdoorsman/television personality Jim Shockey converted an old public school in Duncan, BC, Canada into a museum filled with an overwhelming amount of taxidermy. There are entire rooms filled entirely with animal skulls.

Educational value is a bit limited for it to be called a museum, in my opinion, but it does have a closet of animal furs/skins/hides specifically for leafing through and touching. Y'know, in case you wanted to touch a snow leopard pelt. To be honest, I am not totally convinced everything in there is legal for private ownership in Canada.

The place also has a huge number of photos, magazines, clips, etc related to Shockey if you're actually interested in him. I think they were also playing excerpts from his memoirs in one of the rooms as well. Just to paint a picture of the kind of myth-making vibe the place has. There is also a mix of cultural artifacts/art sourced from all of the places Shockey has traveled for hunting/television, but it is pretty unfocused.

Lastly, there's a room full of old fishing artifacts on loan from a collector that acts as a kind of museum within a museum.

I'm not sure the place is worth a trip specifically to see it since a good natural history museum covers a lot of the same ground in a more conventional way, but it is well worth a visit as part of a larger trip to BC or Vancouver Island. I do want to stress how unmuseum-y it is despite presenting itself as a museum. It is more like a cabinet of curiosities that grew out of control.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 10:48 PM on September 17 [4 favorites]

The Grainger Museum is an ‘autobiographical museum documenting the life and times of musician and composer Percy Grainger … Spanning music, experimental sound technology, musical instruments, ethnography, art and design’, that he donated to the University of Melbourne because he believed the world really needed a museum of … him. He was definitely an eccentric rich guy with very healthy self esteem.
The phrase ‘art and design’ encompasses a lot, from Grainger’s interest in folk art, to his enthusiasm for BDSM (the collection includes a lot of fancy whips, paddles, and such). It’s a hoot.
posted by threecheesetrees at 11:00 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]

The Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford UK:

“ The Museum displays archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world. The General Pitt Rivers's founding gift contained more than 26,000 objects, but there are now over half a million.”
posted by roofus at 11:28 PM on September 17 [8 favorites]

The Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford. The origin of it was one person's collection, and the organisation and presentation is idiosyncratic.
posted by paduasoy at 11:28 PM on September 17 [7 favorites]

The Muséum Emmanuel Liais in Cherbourg, Normandy. It's based off the assemblage of various local 19th century cabinets de curiosités.

It describes itself thus : Nestling in a green setting in the heart of the Emmanuel Liais park, classified as a Remarkable Garden, the Natural History, Archaeology and Ethnography Museum remains faithful to the spirit of the first museums of the 19th century, favouring the accumulation of varied objects from all over the world.

Cherbourg isn't the most notable of destinations, so my mum and I were gobsmacked to end up wandering around this museum when we once had half a day to wait before catching the ferry back to the UK after a long weekend visiting Bayeux / taking in those most Brit-centric of assorted foreign curios, i.e. hypermarché priced beer and wine.

Very much one of those chance experiences that stay with you many years down the line and almost become more vivid each time you're reminded of them.
posted by protorp at 12:26 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

The Hunt Museum in Limerick, Ireland houses a wonderful ragbag of art and artifacts collected by magpies John and Gertrude Hunt.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:30 AM on September 18

The Russell-Cotes in Bournemouth. Article about it here.
posted by paduasoy at 12:39 AM on September 18

The Kunstkamera in St. Petersburg, RU, is kind of an extreme example of this.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:44 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

The Horniman Museum in south London is a museum of natural history, ethnography and musical instruments, founded by the heir to a Victorian tea fortune.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:51 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]

The Pitts Rivers Museum in Oxford.
posted by plep at 1:24 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Mares museum in the center of Barcelona.

And adding Snowshill Manor in the English Cotswolds.
posted by vacapinta at 2:04 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]

The recommendation of Snowshill has reminded me of Tyntesfield, Bristol.
posted by paduasoy at 3:33 AM on September 18

The Booth Museum in Brighton, England, houses 300 diorama cases of taxidermied birds in their natural habitats, created by Edward Thomas Booth, a rich Victorian gentleman whose ambition it was to 'to exhibit one example of every species and recognisable stage of British bird' (he also shot and killed them).
posted by atlantica at 4:37 AM on September 18

Petra’s Stone Collection in Iceland
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:08 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Oh, I see someone mentioned an automotive museum. There are two in Iceland. I’ve been to the one near Hofsos (Auto Museum Stóragerði) and it is pretty much one person’s collection of cars. We met the son of the guy who started it; he said that after a while anyone who had an old car to get rid of would contact his dad.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:17 AM on September 18

This is a better TripAdvisor page for that auto museum; it has photos and reviews.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:34 AM on September 18

I recently visited Singapore and regret missing out on the Katong Antiques House, a museum of sorts to the beautiful Peranakan culture. The owner will give you a tour sometimes.
posted by Pitachu at 5:55 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

phunniemee already mentioned the Toby Jug Museum but there’s another one of these in Evanston, IL: the Halim Time and Glass Museum. The bottom floor is all antique stained glass and the top floor is all weird old clocks. Looks like it’s currently closed for renovation, though.
posted by theodolite at 5:59 AM on September 18 [2 favorites]

The New York Historical Society isn’t as wild as some of the places mentioned , but it’s definitely worth the time. They have great tightly-themed exhibits on their main floor, but as you move upwards it gets more clear that for a while there they may have just acquired anything valuable that had anything to do with New York. Tiffany lamps, Robert Caro’s papers, a giant 5 foot bust of Abraham Lincoln (???), a silver punch bowl you could bathe a toddler in. I just love it there.
posted by Mchelly at 6:11 AM on September 18

one more in iceland for you- the shark museum on snaefellsness. there's a lot about sharks & fishing but it's also just a lot of old stuff.

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) in Hood River, Oregan is also way more awesome than i would have expected, tons of old cars ans planes, but also bicycles, washing machines, toys, and other wheeled/winged/mechanical stuff. go on saturdays and you might get a ride.
posted by wowenthusiast at 6:14 AM on September 18

Came here to point you to the City Museum in St. Louis, but carrienation beat me to it. As a runner-up, I was going to point you to the Riverside RedX, but it seems that the current owner (the son of the original owner) is auctioning off the collection right now.
As a consolation prize, I will point you to the Patee House museum in St. Joseph, MO, which is ostensibly a Pony Express history museum, but also has such things as an electric drill used by a local serial killer to kill a victim, complete with blood and hair still wrapped around the bit. Unfortunately, it doesn't have quite that same "one madman's obsession" vibe.
Finally, also not really a.collection of "stuff" but more a collection of architecture, the Winchester Mystery House in CA is worth a visit. And yes, House on the Rock is exactly what you want.
posted by jferg at 6:21 AM on September 18

This is 100% what MoPop in Seattle was for Paul Allen. I wish I could send you to the Living Computer Museum but its been kneecapped.
posted by bq at 6:47 AM on September 18 [2 favorites]

In Stow, Mass. (out west of Boston), there is a museum called the American Heritage Museum. The bland name belies the fact that it holds the Collings Foundation's collection of antique cars and military planes, the entirety of the Littlefield collection, and more. The collection had been open to the pubic only one or two days per year, until the museum opened up.

They do living history events like "Battle for the Airfield," tank rides, a Battle of bunker Hill re-enactment, races of antique cars, events with car owners bringing in their own cars (and dressing in period clothes), and more.

We were apple-picking at the excellent Honey Pot Hill Orchard last year when one of these events was going on, and it sounded like legit combat just beyond the fruit trees!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:50 AM on September 18

Here in St. Augustine, Florida we have the Lightner Museum. They periodically have exhibitions of material loaned from other sources but the permanent collection is primarily "rich guy who created the museum emptied his house and put it on display," so it's got like a Tiffany lamp, then a mummy, then a painting of a horse. It's very charming.
posted by saladin at 7:05 AM on September 18

Can't believe I forgot to mention Dennis Severs' House - it's a portal to an imagined past and the monument of a remarkable person and it's hard to say too much more without spoilers, if a museum can have spoilers. Please do the full evening tour if you can.
posted by theodolite at 7:08 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]

I think it might be the case that most car museums start as a rich guy's car collection, we've got one in Seattle too. Some impressively weird cars in there too.

This may not be quite odd enough for you, and it's also a bit far afield, but I love the idiosyncracies of the ChiMei Museum in Tainan, in southern Taiwan. It presents as a pretty conventional art museum but there are a lot of random rooms with like, only highly ornate self-playing musical instruments to stumble across. It's definitely the "one rich man's vision" type of museum (if you've ever bought frozen Chinese snacks the odds are not bad you've eaten a ChiMei product - highly recommend their frozen scallion pancakes) but the founder's vision seems to have been "what sorts of interesting things did I want to see in a museum as a child, but I would've had to leave Taiwan to do it?" and then he just...did that. The result is very charming!
posted by potrzebie at 7:25 AM on September 18 [2 favorites]

Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch, on Route 66.

Elmer passed away a few years back, but his son now runs the place. It's larger and more interesting than pictures really show.
posted by toxic at 8:47 AM on September 18

The Shelburne Museum in Vermont, started by the daughter of a sugar magnate. Not only did she bring her favorite impressionist art, she brought her favorite buildings, and a steamboat to boot.
posted by credulous at 9:20 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Franco Maria Ricci is a publisher of luxury books (one of the better known of which is the Codex Seraphinianus). His museum and labyrinth is pretty incredible.
posted by taltalim at 9:42 AM on September 18

The Burrell Collection in Glasgow. Burrell was an immensely rich man who basically bought anything he liked.
posted by scruss at 9:42 AM on September 18

This is also one of my favorite categories of things, please send a MeMail if you want a like-minded pal to go to the Wagner Free Institute with!

You are right that the House on the Rock is the ur-version of this and you should go as soon as humanly possible. Solomon's Castle in Florida also scratched this itch for me. It's not quite right because on the scale of "rich eccentric" this guy was much more eccentric than rich, but as an AVAM fan you might also like Mystery Castle in Phoenix. And much closer to us, the Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn is reopening in November after renovations (until then some of the collection is at the PMA).
posted by babelfish at 10:02 AM on September 18

Outside of Philadelphia in Paoli the Wharton Esherick museum is fascinating. He was a woodworker and sculptor and built his own delightfully quirky house, filled with examples of his sensuous furniture and amazingly sculptural kitchen and staircases.

If you find yourself in Cork, Ireland I recommend the charming Butter Museum. We visited last month and attended a hand-churned butter demonstration which included samples on homemade brown bread. I never realized the impact butter has on the Irish economy, and it explains why every damn field you drive along is full of cows eating the green, green grass.
posted by citygirl at 10:59 AM on September 18

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.
posted by evenolderthanshelooks at 11:07 AM on September 18

Oh, I love this sort of thing! I try to visit them wherever I go.

New Orleans Voodoo Museum
Also in NOLA, Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture
Icelandic Punk Museum and Icelandic Phallological Museum, both in Reykjavik
The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium (Portland, OR)
The Church of St. Francis in Evora, Portugal is most famous for having a chapel made of human bones, and you should absolutely go see that. But it also has a wonderful museum upstairs of nativity scenes from around the world.

Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum, mentioned above, is fabulous but extremely professionally curated. Like, shockingly professionally well done. Tons of thought put into the experience of walking through the collection. Diligently researched labels on everything. One of my favorite museums ever.

Also on the "professionally curated but really weirdly specific collections" front:
Museum of Relief Maps at Invalides (Napoleon's tomb) in Paris
Marionette Museum in Lisbon
The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel in Montreal has a museum about girls' education in Quebec, with a particular focus on science education. Also in Montreal, Expo Barbie (this is free!) and the Insectarium.
posted by capricorn at 11:57 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Oh I can’t believe I forgot to mention Designpanoptikum in Berlin—a VERY eccentric artist, rich perhaps more in free time than money, but he gives the tours himself and it’s amazing.
posted by babelfish at 12:05 PM on September 18

The tiny town of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, is the home of the Billy the Kid museum, which starts off vaguely related to Billy the Kid and then moves on to include just, well, everything up to and including 1960s toys and all the vintage farm equipment you could ever want to see. It's kind of like a rural low budget House on the Rock and it's worth a trip to the middle of nowhere, New Mexico to see it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:22 PM on September 18

The Buchheim Museum outside of Munich starts off with some interesting German Expressionism, and then goes totally bonkers.
posted by Arctic Circle at 3:24 PM on September 18

What? No mention of Tinkertown? That's one of the best of them, and I happen to have a small personal connection to it.
posted by Dr. Wu at 3:25 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]

The LeMay Collection at Marymount, just outside Tacoma, Washington.

(Not to be confused with LeMay—America’s Car Museum in downtown Tacoma, which is a lovely museum and worth a visit if you like cars, but the family collection out in Parkland is more in line with the “wealthy eccentric’s personal collection” vibe.)
posted by Suedeltica at 3:54 PM on September 18

The Teylers Museum in Haarlem; the personal feeling it expresses is Scots-Dutch-Enlightenment, so it’s a welter of things but very coherently organized.

Tiny: the upstairs back of a vintage brass hardware store in Port Townsend has a reasoned display of slipper glass lights, which I think are really pretty. Bits of interesting old stuff through the store, some of which they reproduce.

There’s a maritime history museum in Victoria BC which has much of the feeling in the object labels, which are written by enthusiasts for potential enthusiasts and have a lot of vivid detail. Not a one-person place AFAIK though.
posted by clew at 4:45 PM on September 18

Maryhill Museum in southwest Washington. The website makes it seem more cosmopolitan than I remember - it’s an eccentric rich guy’s house with stuff his famous friends gave him, there are peacocks on the grounds and a model of Stonehenge nearby.
posted by momus_window at 5:54 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]

Weird museums are the first thing I look for when traveling. A bunch of my favorites have been mentioned here, but I can add:

Museo Lara in Ronda, Spain. I was just there! It's in a historic house in Ronda, and the top floor is extensive collections og everyday items such as clocks, dolls, telephones, and typewriters. The basement is wackadoo and has an extensive room about early Spanish film making, and bunch of Inquisition style torture devices and dioramas, and a "witch" museum with bizarre taxidermy.

Already mentioned, the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb is very good and very moving,and we also really enjoyed the Zagreb 80s Museum. It's dedicated to everyday life in the 1980s in Yugoslavia. Well worth a visit.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 7:18 PM on September 18


I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine (moving to Bangor in 2026, apparently.)

Also, The Mini Time Machine, right here in Tucson, AZ. Patricia Arnell started collecting miniatures in the 1930s and founded this museum for her collections. They also have visiting exhibitions and have expanded their displays over the years. Ara Bentley of the YouTube channel Bentley House Minis has had her Adams Family House on display here.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 7:45 PM on September 18

Retro Space Saka Kaikan in Sapporo, Japan is a museum of odd and sometimes NSFW random things that the founder of a biscuit company collected over many years. It's definitely creepy but in a charming way?
The vibe actually reminds me a little of the House on the Rock, similarly eclectic and claustrophobic, but much smaller and, more, ah...bondage-y. :-)
Both left me feeling a little overwhelmed and upset, in a good way.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:05 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Mod note: [btw, this post has been added to the sidebar and the Best Of blog]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:09 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]

A note about the Maryhill museum momus_window's not just a collection of rich guy's memorabilia and the kinda weird Stonehenge reproduction, it also has a large collection of Rodin bronzes.
posted by lhauser at 6:20 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]

Right around the corner from me is the now grandly titled "USC Pacific Asia Museum", which really started life as the home/shop/studio display space for Grace Nicholson who was eccentric as all get out and specialized in collecting artifacts from around Asia as well as Native American tribes (back when that was acceptable and not at all looked at with a withering eye). It's very odd to turn the corner of the backside of the Parks and Rec City Hall and run into a strange tall building with a Chinese roof that's totally unexpected) - Meanwhile, the museum has some incredibly affecting works of Buddhist arts amongst other things and a lovely little courtyard with a tree that the staff valiantly fights to keep upright.

But my favorites are the weird little ones like the Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Valley Relics Museum (even if they've had their own controversies).
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:57 AM on September 19

Bicycle Heaven is another great bicycle museum (and shop!) a few feet from Pittsburgh, PA. It's a quick visit, with rows upon rows upon ceilings of almost 6,000 bikes, including Pee-wee Herman's bike!
posted by isnotchicago at 9:33 PM on September 19

The Third Man Museum in Vienna
Sir John Soane's Museum in London
Pollock's Toy Museum in London is currently closed, but is working toward reopening
posted by paper scissors sock at 11:31 PM on September 19

Snowshill Manor in the Cotswolds. NT YouTube intro . Charles Paget Wade spent his lifetime acquiring things he liked, filling his home with them and dressing up. Electrifyingly eccentric. I’m certain the National Trust have done a lot of tidying up, but his home at Snowshill is still a beautiful maximalist frenzy. (With a nice garden too). Come for the 26 suits of Samurai armor, but stay for the attic crammed with bicycles. Wiki.
posted by aesop at 4:52 AM on September 21

This seems to be a better Snowshill video.
posted by aesop at 5:08 AM on September 21

More in line with the “slightly odd museum” category- the British Folk art collection is tucked into the larger Compton Verney house. It’s well worth a visit, as is Compton Verney itself, the latter being a good sized country house taken over by changing exhibits. I saw a Peter Greenaway show there years ago where the whole place was taken over with an astonishing number of cryptic suitcases filled with interesting things
posted by aesop at 5:16 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]

The Museu da Marioneta (Puppet Museum) in Lisbon is creepy and delightful.
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 3:38 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

The Miracle of America Museum in Polson, Montana is definitely worth a stop on your drive up to Glacier National Park. Keep an eye out for the two-headed calf. Some call it the Smithsonian of the West, I think more on account of the vast collection versus professional curation.
posted by ikahime at 9:40 AM on September 22

Ooo ok I’ve got one! Except it’s not a guys collection of stuff…’s his collection of giant dinosaur sculptures. It’s on the Oregon Coast and it was delightfully homey.
posted by bq at 10:32 AM on September 23

Oh, if we're counting collections of a weird guy's giant dinosaur sculptures, definitely check out artist Mark Cline's Dinosaur Kingdom! Unfortunately his haunted museum burned down but Dinosaur Kingdom, which features a subplot about dinosaurs being conscripted in an alt-history U.S. Civil War, is back up and running.
posted by babelfish at 1:38 PM on September 23

The basement of the Art Gallery of Ontario, which otherwise houses what you'd expect in a generalist art gallery, is home to a large collection of British tallship models. Their biggest donor was the richest person in Canada and along with his impressive collection of Canadian and European art, he also bequeathed to the museum 130 ship models. So you end up with a Toronto art museum with a Frank Gehry designed room housing a collection more suited for the National Maritime Museum in London
posted by thecjm at 6:30 PM on September 25

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