World’s Strangest Museums: From Bananas to Bones to Magic

Seascapes is an underwater exhibit at the Museo Subacuatico de Arte. Photo by Karen Salinas
Seascapes is an underwater exhibit at the Museo Subacuatico de Arte. Photo by Karen Salinas

People who wish to view the sculptures in two other museums need to swim in or float above a different kind of water. The Museo Subacuatico de Arte near Cancun, Mexico and the Museo Atlantico in the sea off the Canary Islands combine art with science. Underwater sculptures at both locations delight those who admire them while diving, snorkeling or viewing them from a boat at the same time that they create artificial reefs which help to protect the marine environment.

The Mexican underwater gallery includes more than 500 statues submerged between 10 and 20 feet at three locations. Among the works are the Dream Collector, the Promise, Thing Blue (a Volkswagen automobile) and six businessmen with their heads buried in the sand.

Silent Evolution, the major installation, includes some 450 sculptures which show people interacting with their environment in both positive and negative ways. Each statue resembles a member of the local village where the sculptor lives including a young boy, a nun and a fisherman.

The Museo Atlantico is a work in progress. So far, six groups of figures have been submerged 50 feet below the surface, and like their Mexican cousins they too resemble residents of the area.

The sculptures vary from serious themes, like an image which refers to the current refugee crisis, to lighthearted scenes including a group of children in small brass boats and a couple taking a selfie.

Charlie & Sheba is an display at the Museum of Bad Art. Photo by MOBA
Charlie & Sheba is an display at the Museum of Bad Art. Photo by MOBA

Art follows a different path at a museum which brags that it’s the only one “dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art.”   The stated goal of the Museum of Bad Art in Boston is “to bring the worst of art to the widest of audiences.”

Each piece in the collection is presented with an appropriate description.  For example, the Blue Mushroom Man has toadstools sprouting out of the top of his head, while the aptly named Woman Riding Crustacean depicts “a blow-up doll riding a giant lobster.”

Mother Nature gets into the art scene at the Messner Mountain Museum, actually a network of six locations in Italy that combine some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe with explorations of various themes related to their settings.

The focus of one museum is mountain myths while another tells the story of mountain people. The building perched atop 7,500-foot-tall Mount Kronplatz is dedicated to traditional mountain climbing, while the Museum in the Clouds on Monte Rite with its glass-enclosed pavilion is sensational for the panoramic views alone. Adding to its appeal is a collection of paintings of the Dolomite Mountains over two centuries.

If this short list of out-of-the-ordinary museums leaves you wanting, fear not. An  A (Anaesthesia) to Z (Zeppelin) choice of museums which stretches the usual meaning of that word awaits discovery around the world and, perhaps, not far from where you live.

Author Bio: After gallivanting throughout the United States and to more than 75 other countries around the world, and writing about what he sees, does and learns, Victor Block retains the travel bug. He firmly believes that travel is the best possible education, and claims he still has a lot to learn. He loves to explore new destinations and cultures, and his stories about them have won a number of writing awards.