Everyone’s heard of the Louvre and the British Museum, but where do you go once you’ve tired of the crowds? If you’re in search of a quirkier, more unusual museum experience, try one of these lesser-known museums.
1. Haus der Musik (Vienna, Austria)
Why You Should Go: The Haus der Musik (Sound Museum) is a delightfully interactive museum that centers around the art and science of music. Every space is engaging and fun, from the Sea of Voices (where you can use your voice as an instrument in unique and unexpected ways) to the Sound Gallery (where you can remix your own voice with environmental sounds to record a totally unusual track). You can even experience the “prenatal sensory rush” – a chance to hear music as it would have sounded to you in the womb. Don’t miss the Virto Stage on the fourth floor, where you can direct your own concert on a virtual stage.
2. Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Paris, France)
Why You Should Go: The Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts) is one of the world’s most important decorative arts museums. Although it’s admittedly overshadowed by the “biggies” of Paris (i.e. the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay), the Museum of Decorative arts really shouldn’t be missed. Make sure to check out the Gallery of Jewels, a massive exhibit exploring the history of jewelry from the Middle Ages to the present. Jewelry covers the dark walls in floor-to-ceiling glass panels, and the whole thing feels a bit like a James Bond movie.
3. The Museum of Broken Relationships (Zagreb, Croatia)
The Museum of Broken Relationships is a museum for the nosiest and most sentimental among us. Every item in the museum has been donated by a member of the public, along with an accompanying narrative explaining the role that the item played in a now-defunct relationship. From the squeaky hamburger-shaped dog toy to the literal axe, it’s fascinating to get a glimpse into the personal lives of strangers through this quirky, totally unexpected collection of former belongings. The Museum of Broken Relationships offers an unusually cathartic and intimate museum experience. Plus, if you feel the urge, you can even donate your own relationship detritus to the collection.
4. The Beer Museum (Prague, Czech Republic)
Why You Should Go: It’s a beer museum. Need we say more? At this museum in Prague, you can learn the glorious history of the beverage, learn all about how beer is brewed, and sit down for a beer tasting. Did we mention you get to bottle your own beer as a souvenir? The 13th century beer cellars are nothing short of stunning, and the tasting rooms are modeled after 19th century and Communist-era pubs. Four beers are included in the price of admission. They say that in Prague, beer is cheaper than water. Why not find out the truth behind the rumor by visiting the Beer Museum?
5. Geffyre Museum of the Home (London, England)
Why You Should Go: The Geffyre Museum of the Home is one of London’s hidden treasures. (And in a city with a phenomenal museum or gallery on virtually every corner, that’s really saying something.) Tucked away in Shoreditch, he eleven period rooms showcase the transformation of homes and home life over time, from the 1630s to the 1990s. The experience of walking through the museum feels a bit like being in a time warp. As you walk from room to room, you’ll be transported from era to era, immersed in the sights and sounds of the past. You can even sit in a replica chair in each room. Plus, like many museums in London, admission is completely free.
6. The Gelato Museum (Bologna, Italy)
Why You Should Go: If you’re in Italy, you’ll probably be spending most of your time eating gelato. Why not learn more about the treat you’ve enjoyed so much by visiting the Gelato Museum? At the Gelato Museum, you’ll take a tour of the old-fashioned machinery used to make gelato in years past, then head to the tasting room to sample a variety of delicious, freshly made flavors. Then, you’ll watch the gelato masters hard at work on their craft and – if you’re still hungry – you can snag a pint to take home for later.
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