Wednesday, October 20, 2010

✈Worldwide Wednesdays: Weird but Unique Museums - Part 3

Well, there are more weird but unique museums then I ever thought existed! I thought I covered them all, but there's more to see so let's get on with Part-3!

Bob Riddell's Telephone Museum
Bob Riddell`s Telephone Museum
Minnesota, USA
Bob Riddell is the owner (and sole employee) of the nation’s smallest telephone company, in Wawina, Minn. He also happens to have one of the nation’s largest collections of telephones. Working cord switchboards, dial systems, business phones, rotaries, touch-tones — Riddell’s got ‘em all up and ringing. On your journey to operate a hand-cranked Bakelite telephone, it may be best to take written directions with you. Bob Riddell’s Telephone Museum: Between mileposts 207 and 208 on U.S. Highway 2, turn north, cross the tracks and go 2.2 miles (3.5 km) to 13505 County Road 25.

The Museum of Death
Museum of Death
California, USA
The Museum of Death, a showcase of just that, was originally founded in San Diego in 1995. In 2000, proprietor James Healy moved the museum to its current location in Los Angeles, and expanded to what is now the largest collection of serial murderer artwork, photos of the Manson crime scenes, original photos from the Dahlia Murders, and other such relics of the violent, fatal and macabre.
Other exhibits in the museum include the guillotined, severed head of Henri Landru, a body bag and coffin collection, full size replicas of execution devices, mortician and autopsy instruments (and pictures and video of such in use), taxidermy showcases, the Heaven's Gate Cult recruiting video and more.

If you've managed to read this far, then the Museum of Death just might be a must-see destination for your inner-ghoul. The museum is a self-guided tour that lasts about an hour, but, of course, you're welcome to stay as long as you like (if you're up to it).

"I think it shocks people, but its a good shock," said Healy. "Seeing all these artifacts of death in one place reminds people how precious life is."

Cesare Lombroso's Museum of Criminal Anthropology

Once only open to academics, "Lombroso's Museum" has opened its doors to the public revealing the astonishing collection of an infamous criminologist.

Cesare Lombroso's Museum of Criminal Anthropology
Turin, ITALY
As the criminologist Cesare Lombroso examined the skull of the autopsied the body of Giuseppe Villela, the notorious Italian criminal he had just dissected, he discovered a cranial anomaly known as a “median occipital fossette." Lombroso was suddenly overtaken by flash of insight. As he would write many years later:
“The sight of that fossette suddenly appeared to me like a broad plain beneath an infinite horizon, the nature of the criminal was illuminated, he must have reproduced in our day the traits of primitive man going back as far as the carnivores.”

What Lombroso felt he had discovered would become his legacy and known throughout the world as the "Italian school of criminology." Lombroso felt that he now understood the true 'scientific' nature of crime and criminals. Put simply, according to Lombroso you didn't learn to become a criminal, you were born to become one. Also called "biological determinism," Lombroso's theory of "anthropological criminology" and the upbeat sounding "positivist criminology" was that criminals were a kind of evolutionary throwback, physically de-evolved, and unfortunately for them they couldn't change because it was part of their biology.

Physical characteristics tied to being a "natural born criminal" were many and included large jaws, forward projection of jaw, low sloping foreheads, high cheekbones, flattened or upturned nose, handle-shaped ears, large chins, hawk-like noses or fleshy lips, hard shifty eyes, scanty beard or baldness, insensitivity to pain and long arms.

Lombroso also believed that race was an indicator of evolution with blacks being the least evolved and whites being the most evolved, or in his words "only we white people have reached the ultimate symmetry of bodily form." Interestingly despite these beliefs (which it should be added were commonly held at the time) Lombroso was not a particularly virulent man and was a believer in reform rather than punishment, and was against capital punishment.

As part of his studies Lombroso collected numerous specimens both biological such as numerous skulls for study, but also weapons used in crimes and other criminological relics. In 1892 Lombroso opened a museum in Turin (narrowly escaping having his collection seized by Rome) bragging "our school has attracted and convinced the best scientists in Europe who did not disdain to send us, as proof of their support, the most valuable documents in their collections.”

Lombroso himself
 Lomborso was a lifelong collector described by his daughter as “Although untidy and neglectful of what he possessed, Lombroso was a born collector – while he walked, while he talked, while he was engaged in discussion; in town, in the country, in court, in prison, on his travels, he was always studying something that no one could see, thus amassing or buying a wealth of curiosities, which at the time no one, not even he himself, could have placed a value on...”

Among the collections he acquired for the museum are hundreds of skulls of soldiers and civilians, natives from 'far-off lands' as well as those of criminals and madmen, dozens of complete skeletons, brains, and wax models of "natural criminals" as well as "drawings, photos, criminal evidence, anatomical sections of "madmen and criminals" and work produced by criminals in the last century, the Gallows of Turin, which were in use until the city's final hanging in 1865 and the possessions of a man known as White Stag, a renowned impostor who convinced Europe he was a great Native American chief."

The collection is topped off by the head of Lombroso himself, "perfectly preserved in a glass chamber."  

The Museum of Sex
Museum of Sex
New York, USA
The Mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. In its exhibitions, programs and publications, the Museum of Sex is committed to opening discourse and exchange and to bringing to the public the best in current scholarship.

When the Museum of Sex first emerged on New York City’s Fifth Avenue on October 5, 2002, it was without precedent in the museum world.

The Museum’s permanent collection of over 15,000 artifacts is comprised of works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions and historical ephemera. Additionally, the museum houses both a research library as well as an extensive multimedia library, which includes 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, BETA, VHS and DVDs. From fine art to historical ephemera to film, the Museum of Sex preserves an ever-growing collection of sexually related objects that would otherwise be destroyed and discarded due to their sexual content.

At the Museum of Sex, there is no end to the new things you can learn about coitus. A past exhibit, “Peeping, Probing & Porn- Four Centuries of Graphic Sex in Japan,” opened eyes to the sexual culture of a still unknown archipelago. The new exhibit, “The Sex Lives of Animals,” is a refreshing look at the mating habits of wild animals that are as closely related to humans as a gorilla, and as far as a banana slug.

In a city that never sleeps, the Museum of Sex is constantly evolving and has no plans to slow down with an aphrodisiac themed café as well as an additional exhibition gallery in the works for the near future.


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