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Recommended Museums

A helpful list of museums and similar institutions whose themes resonate with those of the Zymoglyphic Museum. For more information, see the Curator's Web log For a virtual tour of personal museums of the Baroque era, see here.

Inspected by the museum staff and found worthy of recommendation to travelers. Listings without stars have not been visited but are presumed to be worth seeing
No longer extant, but its impact lingers on

Convenient internet links and book references are provided for patrons for whom travel is not a possibility or who wish a preview of the associated institutions.

U.S. Pacific Coast
Of Sea and Shore Museum of Shells and Sealife, Port Gamble, Washington
Occupies the upper floor of an old general store in a small town across Puget Sound from Seattle. Excellent crab collection.

Steve's Weird House, Seattle, Washington
Virtual reality tour of a private house in Seattle crammed with stuff. via Kircher Society.
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Seattle, Washington
Selling Indian artifacts and curiosities since 1899. Display of mummies, shrunken heads and a merman.
Book: 1001 Curious Things: Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Native American Art

Marsh's Free Museum, Long Beach, Washington
Wonders of the World Museum, Port Costa, California
Dr. Gladstone's exhibition of Kaolithic curiosities and other wonders is gone, but you can still pick up a souvenir Homo ceramicus skull! Curator's Web log entry
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, San Francisco, California
A local outlet of the 20th century's biggest curiosity cabinet. This Fisherman's Wharf location still has the feel of early 20th century expeditions to strange lands.
Musee Mechanique, San Francisco, California
A collection of vintage automata and coin-operated dioramas
de Young Museum, San Francisco, California
Once the city's curiosity cabinet, now noted for its collections of African, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian artifacts.
The Exploratorium, San Francisco, California
A giant hall of mechanical and optical wonders. Often displays art based on physical, chemical, and biological processes. For an example, see the Turbulent Landscapes exhibit of 2000.
Rosicrucian Museum, San Jose, California
A modern mystical order displays its fascination with its roots in ancient Egypt
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California
Huge collection of underwater wonders. Highlights are jellyfish as living art and a Zymoglyphic-like tank of animals making their briny homes in discarded underwater junk.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Culver City, California
A museum of enigmatic exhibits devoted to the preservation of knowledge that would otherwise be lost. Curator's Web log entry
Book: Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder : Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

U.S. Atlantic Coast

Metropolitan Museum, New York, New York
A giant collection of art and antiquities from everywhere. The "primitive" art collection is especially recommended, since pieces were selected more aesthetically than ethnographically.
Book: Masterpieces of Primitive Art (The Nelson A. Rockefeller collection)
American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
Classic natural history dioramas and an incredible rock and meteorite collection
Book: Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History

Coney Island Museum, New York, New York
Has the last sideshow in Coney Island - tattooed women, fire-eaters, sword-swallowers, etc.

Freakatorium, New York, New York closed 2005

P.T. Barnum's American Museum, New York, New York
Barnum's pioneering combination of education, spectacle and hokum. Burned in 1865 and recreated online.

Mutter Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
America's premier medical museum. Noted for its annual calendars featuring photographs of the museum's collection by noted photographers such as Rosamond Purcell and Joel-Peter Witkin.
Book: Mutter Museum: Of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

American Dime Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
In 19th century America, the "wonder" part of museums became more associated with circus sideshows and "dime museums" such as P.T. Barnum's. This museum was dedicated to preserving their memory. Closed 2007
Book: Weird & Wonderful: The Dime Museum in America

Palace of Wonders, Washington, D.C.
"The only vaudeville stage, museum of oddities, and full bar in the world!"

Belhaven Memorial Museum, Belhaven, North Carolina
An individual collector's amazing amassment of oddities
Cypress Knee Museum, Palmdale, Florida
This was both a classic Florida roadside attraction and an excellent example of natural art. Closed in 2000 due to vandalism and theft.

Other U.S.

Tinkertown Museum, Sandia, New Mexico

Menil Collection, Houston, Texas

Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata, Austin, Texas

UCM Museum, Abita Springs, Louisiana


Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
A Victorian ethnographic museum, with rows of vitrines filled with a huge variety of human artifacts.
Snowshill Manor, Snowshill
Charles Wade spent the first half of the 20th century filling his manor house with objects of all kinds.
Sir John Soane's Museum, London
An 18th century London architect who made his home into a museum of art and antiquities
Hunterian Museum, London
Anatomical and medical museum based on the collections of an 18th century surgeon.

Potter's Museum of Curiosity, Cornwall
A Victorian taxidermist's collection of stuffed animals in anthropomorphic scenes. Auctioned off in 2003. For more information, see here

Continental Europe

Musee Fragonard, Paris, France
Museum devoted to the pioneering preservation work of the 18th century French anatomist Honore Fragonard
Book (in French): L'autre Fragonard (Imager)
Musee Robert Tatin, Cossť-le-Vivien, France
An incredible personal sculpture and art museum in an old farmhouse in rural France.

Museum of Petrification, Savonniers, France
Petrifying springs coat objects left in them with layers of limestone. Via Kircher Society

Kunstkammer Georg Laue, Munich, Germany
A gallery that specializes in objects you might find in a princely cabinet of curiosities

Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck, Austria
The "Chamber of Art and Curiosities" is a reconstruction of Archduke Ferdinand II's princely cabinet from ca. 1600

Peter the Great's Kunstkammer, St. Petersburg, Russia
Opened in 1714 to showcase the Russian czar's collection of wonders, now an anthropology museum

Recommended tour guides to museums in the U.S. and Europe

Little Known Museums in and Around Paris
Little-Known Museums in and Around London

Also available for Rome and Berlin

Little Museums: Over 1,000 Small (And Not-So-Small) American Showplaces

Web Site

Roadside America is an excellent source for updated news on roadside attractions, including the small museums that often do not survive indefinitely