Wednesday, October 27, 2010

✈Worldwide Wednesdays: Weird but Unique Museums - Part 4

Well, there are more weird but unique museums than ever before, so let's get on, shall we, with Part-4!

Star City, Russia
Secret Soviet city once home to Russian cosmonauts and space training facilities

The entrance to Star City
Russia's Star City is so named not because it is home to movie stars or pop stars, but to cosmonauts, the heroes of the Soviet and Russian space programs.

Today Star City is a sort of space explorer's utopia, where cosmonauts of the past and present have lived with their families since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to visit space in 1961.

Formerly a secret Air Force facility, Star City was highly guarded even by Soviet standards. Not listed on any Soviet-era maps, the closed urban-type settlement is hidden in the woods some twenty miles northeast of Moscow.

As the Soviet space program developed, the need for a cosmonaut training center became evident and so Star City was born. And with the arrival of prospective cosmonauts and their families, the military facility became a legitimate city, at least by rural standards.

At Star City's Hydro Lab, an entire mock spacecraft is submerged in a tank filled with water, the density of which helps to recreate the feeling of weightlessness for cosmonauts.

A post office, movie theater, railway station, and a couple of schools are all within the confines of Star City. The site even captured the imagination of sophisticated city-dwellers with rumors of its impressive selection of shops.

In the 1990s, however, the curtain of secrecy over Star City was lifted and the site was opened to the public. For the first time, visitors could catch a glimpse of the tank where cosmonauts practice their space walks under water, or the gigantic centrifuge where the soon-to-be spacemen are swung around at dizzying speeds, experiencing forces eight times the force of gravity in the process.

Today, a handful of companies offer special tours of the facility and visitors can even jump into a mock-up space suit, hop in the centrifuge, or board a "zero-gravity" flight that simulates weightlessness through a parabolic trajectory. But for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, Star City also offers more down-to-earth activities.

In fact, the cosmonaut simulation experience does not even require you to leave your seat at the planetarium, where you can learn to navigate using thousands of stars as your reference. Meanwhile, the museum of space travel and exploration has an impressive collection of vintage spacesuits, capsules charred from reentering the atmosphere, and a replica of Gagarin's office, which holds a book that is routinely signed by every crew before launch.

And if you're fortunate enough to visit on the Fourth of July, you might experience Star City's celebration at the homes built for NASA personnel in the 1990s. Just look for the American-style tract houses among the sea of Khrushchev-era concrete buildings.

Steve's Weird House, United States 

OMG!  I thought MY house was cluttered!  Check out this place!
Steve's Weird House - Staircase

Weird Steve has a house that lives up to his name. Filled to the brim with oddities and curiosities, it is a perfect example of the Victorian decorating style known as "horror vacui" (literally, fear of empty spaces), and not a square inch goes uncovered. Weird Steve has dedicated his life to cramming his Victorian Mansion with his growing collection of curios, antiquities and odd refuse.

Steve's Weird House - Bathroom
 Steve's unusual artifacts include circus sideshow exhibits (pickled punks, two headed animals), Victorian Art (wreaths of human hair, furniture, statues), Natural History (exotic taxidermy, anatomical displays), antique medical and quack instruments, funeral paraphernalia (antique coffins, collection of casket plates), a 25,000+ library of curious and esoteric themes, 150+ antique toasters, a sculpture garden (complete with 25 foot-tall Rapunzel tower), a tree house outfitted as a bordello and countless others oddities. Wonderful, cluttered Horror Vacui at its best.

Steve's Weird House - Minotaur Garden
You have to check out his website.  I mean every single space is filled with objects and he gives GREAT Virtual Tour of every room in the house from the First Floor right down to the Basement so you can see everything up close!! Amazing!

The Icelandic Phallological Museum, Iceland
Located in Husavik, Iceland, The Icelandic Phallological Museum is the world’s only museum devoted to penises.  
The Phallological Museum began in 1994 when curator Sigurdur Hjartarson first displayed his collection of Icelandic mammal penises to the public.
While the museum is clearly not for the faint of heart, it has gained a fierce following among vagabonds and seekers of global quirk, even inspiring a rather catchy song, “Das Pe-Pe-Penis Museum von Reykjavik.”

Included in the museum are 204 "penises and penile parts" belonging to 45 different species, including 54 specimens from 16 different kinds of whale, and one lifted off a "rogue polar bear."

The museum notes that it "has also been fortunate enough to receive legally-certified gift tokens for four specimens belonging to Homo Sapiens."

This museum aims not merely to titillate, but to advance the "ancient science" of phallology, which examines how male genitalia have influenced history, art, psychology, and literature.

The Canada Museum of Belgium, Belgium 
A museum celebrating the Canadian forces that liberated Belgium from the Nazis replete with battlefield miniatures and multiple Gardens

One of the miniatures

During WWII while the Nazis occupied Belgium, Belgian Maurice Van Landschoot made a point to befriend them.

 Gilbert Van Landschoot
 Maurice drank and chatted with the local Nazi commanders and secured their trust. Meanwhile, while the Nazis weren't looking Maurice Van Landschoot was organizing the resistance. Van Landschoot dug an escape route and established a way out of the country for airmen shot down over Belgium, as well as fed intelligence about Nazi troop movements to the allied forces.

At the end of the war he was discovered and had to flee into the underground tunnel which he had helped create. He was saved from a certain death by Canadian forces who swept into the county, and though taking many losses, defeated the Nazis. Maurice Van Landschoot felt he owed his life to the Canadians and that they weren't as recognized as war heroes as their American and Britsh counterparts. With this in mind, on his deathbed he made a tall request to his son: commemorate the sacrifice of the Canadian WWII veterans. His son Gilbert Van Landschoot did just that.

Known as the Canada Museum, it features an impressive collection of authentic World War II paraphernalia, and the associated and amazing Maple-Leaf Miniature Museum which displays a dozen authentic WW II battlefields in 1/35 scale. The museum complex is also host to some beautiful gardens, including a French Garden with thousands of roses, an English garden with ponds and waterfalls, a Japanese garden with a magnificent rock which symbolizes the life of man, and an "Exotics Garden" with a neo-druidic theme complete with menhirs (rocks standing upright in the ground) and a "druid circle."
another one of the miniatures

One final example serves to illustrate the significance of what they have done. When they approached the Belgian government for help in funding the museum, they were told that despite the fact the Battle of the Scheldt was almost exclusively a Canadian operation, they could only receive public funding if they opened an “American-themed” museum, the government apparently believing only a museum that catered to American tourists could be financially successful. Of course, the Van Landschoots refused.

In the Van Landschoots’ own words: “We, the Belgian and Dutch people, should stand up and show our gratitude to the Canadian people.” Without a doubt, the Canada Museum in Adegem serves this purpose.

The Bottle Museum Entrance
The Bottle Art Museum, Thailand
The building which houses the Bottle Art Museum is easy to spot, as its front is made entirely of bottles.

The tour of the museum begins with a video introduction of the founder of the museum, Dutch sculptor, Peter Bedelais, and his only student Mrs. Prapaisi Thaipanich, who continues on with his legacy today. The video goes on to show the process of constructing models

After the video one enters the museum to see a huge collection of more th
an 300 pieces of artwork contained in glass bottles. The scenes created within the bottles include churches, temples, major tourist attractions, palaces and vessels.  The level of detail and work that went into creating such a magnificent collection is truly awe inspiring.
 inside a bottle.  Needless to say, you must possess a great deal of patience to be in this line of work.

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, India

Ever wondered what a museum dedicated entirely to the history of toilets would be like ?
If that peculiar question ever crossed your mind-seek professional help! But if you really want to know, you can visit Sulabh in New Delhi, India.

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, is the Founder of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, a pioneering non-profit voluntary organisation (NGO) in the field of Sanitation in India.  This museum was created to help spread the not only history of the development of the toilet, but also to promote its use in a country where open defecation is still practiced by millions. Granted, toilets are only available to about two thirds of the population. We just hope that the other third won’t use the ones on display at the museum!

The Museum has been established with the following objectives :-

  1. To educate students about the historical trends in the development of toilets;
  2. To provide information to researchers about the design, materials, and technologies adopted in the past and those in use in the contemporary world;
  3. To help policy makers to understand the efforts made by predecessors in this field throughout the world;
  4. To help the manufacturers of toilet equipment and accessories in improving their products by functioning as a technology storehouse; and
  5. To help sanitation experts learn from the past and solve problems in the sanitation sector.



  1. Actually, Kath.
    Ostend was liberated by the Canadians on 8 September 1944,then they liberated Knocke-Heist,Brugge and moved on to Eecklo and Antwerp.
    Indeed, Canadians who visit the Vimy Memorial would do well to turn their eyes north, not just to the World War I battlefields of Ypres and Passchendaele, but to the World War II battlefields, memorials and museums. If you were to start such a pilgrimage in Brugge, find your way to Canada Bridge where two magnificent bronze bisons, the symbol of the Manitoba Dragoons, commemorate the “memory of the Canadian forces who liberated the city.” You may also want to drive to Moerbrugge where the community unveiled an abstract sculpture made out of sections of a Sherman tank on the 50th anniversary of the battle.
    In early October, after Market Garden had failed with heavy losses, Allied forces led by the First Canadian Army set out to bring the Antwerp ports under control. But the well-established German defenders staged an effective delaying action. Complicated by the waterlogged terrain, the Battle of the Scheldt proved to be an especially gruelling and costly campaign. Historians have largely ignored it until recent years.

    After five weeks of difficult fighting, the First Canadian Army, bolstered by attached troops from several other countries, was successful in winning the Scheldt after numerous amphibious assaults, crossing of canals, and fighting over open ground. Both land and water were mined, and the Germans defended their retreating line with artillery and snipers.

    The Allies finally cleared the port areas on November 8, but at a cost of 12,873 Allied casualties (killed, wounded, or missing), half of them Canadians.
    Historians say Montgommery made a tactical error and because of this the fight was so costly especially for the Canadians who moved on spearpointing while Montgommery and the US commanders accepted the thanks from the city Of Antwerp.

  2. Gosh.. such interesting facts and figures you have here Will!
    You're a walking encyclopedia! Didn't know all this!
    The more and more I read, the more and more I realize how valuable the Canadians were during that war time and now in Afghanistan!
    It's stories like these that makes me proud to be Canadian!
    Thanks for the input!!

  3. hey kath :) thx for the visit. your blog is awesome. I love that top museums post :) hehe.. simply great :) you interested in link exchange ? I could put you in my partner links ? :))

  4. Hi Ashfaq! Wow.. you stopped by! Excellent! I'm not exactly sure what you mean by link exchange but that's ok, thanks, but no thanks. :)

    I appreciate the offer, but it's ok. I was only going through all the bloggers of the MFS-Blogger Gallery as we are currently updating them to see which ones are active and which ones aren't!

    I just happened to notice your current post on 'stoning' and had to reply!

    Thanks again Ashfaq! Take care!


Hey! Thanks for leaving your comment!