I love weird museums, ever since i saw the elephant man as a child, freak shows and circus’s have fascinated me. In the US during the depression or 1840, travelling carnivals were incredibly popular, filled with deformed animal exhibits, some real like two headed calves, some hoax’s. They are strangest than some internet roulette games.
These sideshows also featured humans who had various diseases and conditions that at the time was not known to the general public. These people were deemed freaks and treated as curios for people to pay to view, Siamese twins, people with Hypertrichosis (wolf people), additional limbs and horns, terrified the public and also fascinated them.
Freak shows date back further than the great depression, back in 1630’s Lazarus Colloredo and his conjoined twin John Baptista who hung from Lazarus’s sternum where famous for touring Europe. In 1727 Peter the Great collected and displayed what he called”natural and human curiosities and rarities” at the Russia’s first Museum the Kunstkamera, he was however passionate about the study of deformities and wanted to debunk the myths of monsters caused by certain diseases.
The most modern versions of the Freakshow, have to be the The L.A. Circus Congress of Freaks and Exotics and the sensationalist TV programs Bodyshock and the Extraordinary People documentary. Even connections to things that are monstrous, disturbing or circus like, draw peoples attention.
So this leads us to what is on show today and what lies behind some of these museums that makes them still so popular, considering one of the modern freak show owners can still fill a 2000 seat circus. A sideshow much like some that we will see in the showcase below is featured in Rob Zombie movie House of 1000 Corpses, a couple of hapless teens are writing a book on off-beat roadside attractions, and when they stop for gas they find the owner, a clown named Captain Spaulding also runs an odd little freak show.
1. John Strong
John Strong has a travelling freak show (museum) that he makes a handsome living from. His featured oddities include Life Size Fiji Mermaid, Two Headed Cow called Nosey Rosey who is alive, Five Legged Yorkie Puppy and an elephant woman called Kima.
2. Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum
OK, i have found the film Magic with Anthony Hopkins really creepy, and since then i have hated dummy’s. The Vent Haven is the only one of it’s kind and is home to 700 dummy’s, all of which are creepier than the next. One of them is Cleo who was purchased in 1956 whose claim to fame is that she has moving breasts… not sure why that would come in handy.
3. The Museum of death
Founded in San Diego in 1995, the building is actually the City’s first mortuary and was owned by Wyatt Earp. The museum features photos of Charles Manson murder scenes, artwork by serial killers, a guillotined head, morgue photos from the black dahlia murders and a range of full size execution devices. If that’s not bad enough, you can also watch videos of autopsies and the Traces of death video, showing real death footage…nice.
4. John Zaffis Paranormal Museum
A member of the paranormal community for over 35 years, John Zaffi shows his collection of 100+ artifacts taken from all kinds of violent haunting and witchcraft ceremony’s. He believes that a spirit can attach itself to an object.
5. The Mummy Museum
In the heart of Mexico lies Guanajuato, and in this small little town lies ‘Museo de las momias’ or ‘the mummy museum’. The museum features bodies from the Panteón catacombs, where the bodies have been naturally preserved.
Guanajuato is a colonial city in the heartland of Mexico, located in the state of the same name. The historic town and adjoining mines are a World Heritage Site. Guanajuato is also the home of the incredible Museo de las momias, or Mummy Museum. In the Panteón catacombs just west of the city is a famous cemetery especially known for the natural mummies resulting from unknown means. Approximately 1 in 100 bodies buried there experience natural mummification. Visit the impressive and creepy Mummy Museum of Guanajuato.
7. The Icelandic Phallological Museum
This has to be one of the only museums in the world to feature every type of animal penis, you might ask “why would you want too?”. The museum has 100’s of different specimens from polar bears and seals to 12 different whale types and mice.
8. The Mütter Museum
This museum is based in Philadelphia and has a rare collection of oddities and monstrous medical mysteries. The museum has a old stately home feel to it, high ceilings and dark wood cabinets containing jars of preserved human kidneys and livers. In amongst all this finery are a the Hyrtl Skull Collection, a nine-foot-long human colon, the Soap Lady and a two-headed baby.
9. Bangkok Forensic Museum
All manner of body parts are on display in this museum, from full human faces, to severed hands, feet and full bodies. It displays the head belonging to a gun shot victim, the head has been saw in half so that you can see through the glass where the bullet has travelled through the head. If that’s not grim enough, they also show a giant testicle belonging to an Elephantiasis sufferer, the scrotum is 75cm in diameter.
10. The Glore Museum
What adds the major creepy element to this exhibit is that is based in an abandoned hospital ward, the museum has recently expanded the exhibit which now features more horrific ‘treatment’ devices from the 16th, 17th and 18th century, if you can call them that. The methods of treatment for these poor people, look more like torture.
Categorised in: Bizarre
This post was written by Nadia Vella