7 of the World’s Strangest Museums

When it comes to traveling, visiting museums is basically the main interest. You take your most practical shoes out of the closet and start walking and walking and walking, until your knees go stiff. But the mirage of discovering unique cultures apart from our own is always rewarding. If an unconventional visiting trip is what you are looking for, maybe some stranger museums would be your cup of tea. So let’s take a look at 7 of the world’s strangest museums.

1. Parasite Museum, Tokyo

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A visit to Japan, Tokyo’s Meguro Parasitological Museum can change the way you generally see parasites forever. Probably because it offers you the unique occasion to actually take a look at what crawls on your inside and outside. This research facility is the only one in the world that invites guests inside to explore exhibits on parasites and their life cycles with over 300 actual specimens on display. The piece de resistance is a 30-foot tapeworm pulled out of a woman who had reportedly picked it up eating sushi. It has no entrance fee whatsoever, so there’s more to spend on posters with intestinal parasites.

2. Museum of Funeral Carriages, Barcelona

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The vehicles used to transport the deceased have always intrigued many due to their unusual energy, but they definitely have grandeur, as you can simply witness by exploring the Funeral Carriage Museum in Barcelona, Spain.  The exhibit consists of 13 beautiful funeral carriages and six coaches that were used to transport departed citizens to their eternal resting place.

3. Phallus Museum, Reykjavik

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According to its website, it houses more than 215 penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals found in Iceland. Ranging from displays of blue whale members to those from mice and shrews, the museum also has a section on folklore with examples it claims are from elves, trolls and sea monsters.

4. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi

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Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak offers a unique perspective regarding the history of toilets for the past 4,500 years. It underlines the historic evolution of the toilet and looks at how toilets vary around the world.

5. The Garbage Museum, Stratford

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The Garbage Museum features a huge dinosaur made from a ton of trash, which is the average amount produced per year by a single person. Visitors can gain unique perspective on Connecticut’s garbage by walking through a giant compost pile and following the recycling process from start to finish. In other words this goes out to the ecologist in you. It’s rather educational for kids, who can actually learn what garbage is, how much it actually is, and how one can help save the world. Go Planet!

6. The Museum of Human Disease, Sydney

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The Museum of Human Disease offers a bird’s eye view on a huge variety of diseases as well as their effects on the human body. It’s the best way to understand death in a unique perspective due to the fact that you can take part dissection workshops or explore some of the large number of vital organs on display. It is a somewhat successful attempt to explain the phenomenon of death in an unusual, yet practical manner.

7. Leila’s Hair Museum, Independence

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The Hair Museum proves that hair can be used when creating works of art. It contains thousands of wreaths and various creative jewelry pieces made out of real human hair, very popular in the Victorian period. There are also multiple pieces containing hair from famous people, including the likes of Queen Victoria.

The thing is that you can find museums on almost everything. An accurate city guide is the right thing to carry in your pocket in case you decide you want to see something else rather than the classical British Museum or The Louvre. Happy travelling!

Is Banksy Overrated? Some Street Artists Seem to Think So

Every time when someone mentions even the slightest interest in street art, you can bet that the name of Banksy will also be mentioned within the next two minutes or so. Most of these times, it will be the first name that comes up from the world of street artists, especially with people who admire the field from a distance and aren’t really all that immersed into it. But while it’s easier to remember particular works than names – especially if you’ve seen the works firsthand or if they feature a topic or a reference you like – it’s still easy to remember the name of Banksy.

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I don’t know exactly what makes it so. Perhaps it’s his fame in the first place, perhaps it’s the elusive air of a concealed identity that contributed to the myth building and now he’s such a myth in the scene that we don’t really care or remember how it was before the Banksy craze even started. (For those of you which might be appalled of the go-to assumption of gender, please take note that there have been a few seemingly legit interviews with the artist and while he still withheld any identification details, he confirmed to be a man.) The concealed identity and the somewhat subversive message of his art – even more subversive than street art is in itself – definitely contributed to the image of a modern day Robin Hood patrolling the cities and symbolically sticking it to the man. Perhaps that is the main reason for which Banksy has become such a huge favorite. But could it be that his days of glory have passed? Is Banksy overrated? Let’s see what recent street art trends seem to indicate.

One of the nicest recent moves related to street art, which we also covered here, is transforming street art works into GIFs. This way, the merger of street art with the other relevant field of today, which is digital culture and digital art, can be complete. Our post about it also featured an awesome Tumblr account which focuses only on Banksy’s works and transforms them into ingenious and creative GIFs, almost like breathing new life into them. Therefore, we can assume that the artist is definitely still relevant at least to one insider of the street art culture, if we only count the maker of the GIFs and not his many fans as well.

But in spite of this rather distinguishable exception, the general impression is still that most people who are in the know about street art consider Banksy overrated and a bit passé. He seems to remain a cult hero or a name to drop for extra points only for those of us who are really completely outside about street art in general and have only recently come to terms with the fact that graffiti is not vandalism. As for the street artists themselves who are the most likely to predict trends and reflect the general feeling in the field, the number of those who consider Banksy overrated seems to be on the rise.

Little mischief acts like this one are becoming more and more frequent, in spite of the fact that his works are now protected by the law. In the eyes of many street art enthusiasts, perhaps that is just one more detail that makes Banksy overrated and no longer relevant, since the main purpose of street art should be, theoretically, to defy the space it will adorn. When the art itself becomes protected by law and its altering constitutes an instance of vandalism, it kind of lost its mojo, wouldn’t you say?

8-1 Stairways to Heaven

Stairs have a particular vibe. There’s something about where they lead to, or what they connect, or just how they appear. Stairs are cool, indeed. We simply love them. So here they are: 8-1 stairways to Heaven from around the world.

Some of them are nature-built, some of them are man-made, but they simply represent a symbol of both nature’s friendly invites, as well as man’s incredible conquest abilities.

#1. Scala (Rainbow Staircase), Wuppertal, Germany

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Artist Horst Gläsker took a dull staircase built in between two buildings in the town of Wuppertal and turned it into a rainbow of colors, transforming an eyesore into a bright, energetic spot. He named the 112-step artwork Scala, which stands for “staircase” in Italian, and enhanced it with stencils of German words that refer to human relationship manifestations, such as love, sympathy, and dance.

# 2. Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico

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Built by non-conformist English poet Edward James in 1962, this is actually a surrealist garden sculpture that took more than two decades to complete and covers 80-plus acres of Mexican jungle. This modern structure, called Stairway to the Sky, it’s actually a winding staircase one can climb up, but it leads nowhere.

# 3. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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This is a sheer example of Latin vividness. Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón, who began renovating the destroyed steps in 1990 created the famous steps. Choosing to paint the stairs in the bright colors of blue, green and yellow, his simple task soon turned into his greatest artistic passion. The staircase has 250 steps and is covered in tiles collected from countries around the world. This piece of art runs from Rua Joaquim Silva and Rua Pinto Martins, and covers both the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods.

# 4. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, San Francisco, CA

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This tile steps project was conceived and made by Irish ceramicist Aileen Barr and local San Francisco artist, Collette Crutcher. Having over 163 steps, the entire creation process took more than two and a half years to complete mostly because it required helpful actions from the local community to raise necessary funds. Their hard work eventually paid off, as the project was unveiled in August 2005. This public masterpiece is located at 16th Avenue and Moraga in the quiet neighborhood of Golden Gate Heights.

# 5. Heaven’s Gate Mountain, Zhangjiajie City, China

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Visitors to this mountain in China must first take a cable car that lifts them thousands of feet in the air or hop on an apparently dangerous bus ride that goes along a very narrow mountain road filled with countless twists and turns. Once the base of the gaping hole is reached, there are exactly 999 steps leading up to a temple. The latest touristic addition to the mountain is the “sky walk”, which allows tourists to look down at the massive hole below them through a clear glass floor.

# 6. Suspended Bridge over the Traversinertobel, Via Mala, Switzerland

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The Traversinertobel Bridge swings more than 200 feet above the valley of Via Mala. Designed by engineer and architect Jürg Conzett along with Rolf Bachofner, the Traversinertobel solved the question of how to connect two gorges with varying elevations. Before the modern staircase, hikers had to cross from one side to the other with a rope bridge that was destroyed during a rockslide. This suspended footbridge spans a distance of 2,214 inches, with a difference in height of 867 inches between the two ends.

# 7. Taihang Mountains, provinces of Shanxi and Henan, China

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This spiral staircase is about 3.937 inch high, and was recently installed in an attempt to attract tourists to the beautiful Taihang Mountains. Before making the ascent, visitors are asked to sign forms to ensure they do not have heart or lung problems, and are under age 60. And a slip on the narrow metal ladder can certainly lead to disaster.

# 8-1. Staircase to Nowhere, Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

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Let’s finish with the creepiest one of them all, a wooden staircase that also leads nowhere, but due to strange reasons. Haunted by spirits, widow Sarah Winchester apparently built a beautiful Victorian mansion that has a lot of strange elements, but the most curious may be the staircase that dead-ends in the ceiling. Some speculate that Mrs. Winchester chose this baffling design to confuse evil spirits and throw them off her track.

100 Teddy Bears With Skeletons in Their Closets

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Teddy bears have been a life-long fascination for many of us. Every kid has his own teddy bear to torture out of love, enthusiasm or just plain curiosity. 100 Teddy bears with skeletons in their closets is a courageous incursion into the unknown sides of fluffy toy cuteness.

What if they were… mmm…zombies?

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Someone actually thought about this before, someone like the English artist Phillip Blackman, who uses zombie special makeup to turn the adorable toys into creepy un-dead that will keep you awake at night. A teddy bear on the verge of dying, but with a last unfulfilled wish: to haunt you in the middle of the night.

Blackman (I wonder if this is a coincidence…) was inspired by his partner to come up with this idea: “She had a terrible cold at the time and we’d been talking about a gift for a friend’s baby. With a very stuffy nose ‘teddy-bear’ kept coming out as ‘deady-bear’, and we joked about zombie teddies that creep from under your bed at night to feast on your brains while you sleep.”

Each of the UndeadTeds – as they are called – takes in at least eight hours to make, not including the time it takes for glue, paint and varnish to dry. But thanks to strange reasons, they’re selling like hot cakes! Find out more at the Undead Teds tumblr.

Teddy Scares make sure you eat your veggies!

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Teddy Scares are actually UndeadTed’s remote relatives. They are mean, but at least walk with their organs inside their bodies. They each have personalized stories and come with a bunch of creepy warnings. For instance here’s Redmonf Gore’s biography: his last words were: “Trust me, it won’t hurt.” His favorite place is: “In the shadows.” I won’t disclose further information about them; I’ll live this pleasure to you. He also has some interesting creepy friends.

Sinister Pictures of immortal teddies living among us

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It appears that human attachment for plush friends knows no bounds in some odd cases. And people choose to be immortalized holding their significant teddy bear, despite their being over 50 years old, not to mention the bear, which in many cases is much older than the owner.  The bears and their owners have endured each other for decades, and though all lead normal active lives, especially the bears, none are too forgetful to pass the time of day with their oldest friends. At least from time to time.

According to Life Magazine, old bears are characterised by those who live with them as “placid,” “serene” and “radiating contentment.” There’s no doubt about the fact that all teddy bears are steadfast and loyal, yet the same cannot be said for their owners. Christopher Robin for instance, whose childhood bear inspired the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh simply got rid of him like old underwear. Pooh, who is over 50 years old, lives far from home in a glass case in an American publishing house. In 1987 Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Kanga, his best friends ever, were moved to The New York Public Library. They can still be visited in their downtown posh residence.

How it all began

The man behind this fluffy bedtime toy is none other than Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt Jr. “Teddy” Roosevelt, Jr.,

The story goes like this: on a hunting trip in 1902, the young president didn’t want to shoot a black bear, despite the man’s well-earned reputation as a hunter who had killed countless animals and birds for decades. Therefore a toymaker in New York learned of T.R.’s merciful moment and created a toy bear — a “teddy bear.” The bear was an immediate hit, and for the past century has remained the symbol of childhood.

5 Unsettling Paintings Made by Great Artists

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a painting? Some of you might imagine green, rolling hills with blue skies. Others might picture a beautiful nude portrait or a modernist design. However, art is not always that easy to digest. There are numerous challenging concepts which present ideas in a totally unique (and sometimes scary) way. Some paintings are downright scary, and they are probably the last things that people want to hang over their couch. This doesn’t mean that they are not worth examining. Let’s take a look at 5 unsettling paintings made by great artists.

5. Dante and Virgil in Hell 

William- Adolphe Bouguereau

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Since its publication, Dante’s inferno has inspired countless of artists who tried to reproduce that world in their own vision. But while some war eerie and filled with classical tranquility, William Adolphe Bouguereau moves from this style and re-creates the pits of hell where demons and impersonators engage in relentless battles and steal each-others identities by biting. A demon gloats as Virgil and Dante watch the damned struggle.

‘In a frenzy, like pigs escaped from their sties,
Snapping wildly at everything in sight.
One of them fastened his teeth like a vise.’

4. The Temptation of St. Anthony

Matthias Grunewald

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Our next contender on the unsettling paintings list is ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony’ by Matthias Grunewald. This artist enjoyed painting religious imagery in the style of the middle ages (he lived during the renaissance). This particular painting caught our attention. According to the stories, St. Anthony the Great faced many trials of faith (including living in the desert). The legend says that he was killed by a demon living in a cave, but he was soon revived and destroyed the evil. This image is taken from the Isenheim Triptych a three image masterpiece which depicts how St. Anthony succumbs to the attack of demons.

3. Saturn Devouring His Son

Francisco Goya

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Francisco Goya is one of the most well-known and appreciated painters of all time. You are probably already familiar with the Roman myth (based heavily on a Greek myth), according to which Saturn, the father of Gods, eats his own children to prevent them from becoming stronger than himself. ‘Saturn Devouring his Son’ is a painting that should have never been revealed (it was pained on the walls of the artist’s house and it is part of the Black Paintings series). The most famous work of the series is definitely the Witches’ Sabbath.

2. Heads Severed

Theodore Gericault

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Theodore Gericault is well known for his work, ‘The Raft of Medusa’, a large romantic canvas where the artist manages to express his style. Like other artists on the list, Gericault also struggled to break from the standard painting style of that age. He enjoyed romanticism, which tackled emotional subjects. At one point he began to study limbs and severed heads from dissection labs and morgues. The painting above may look troubling, but it is common knowledge that painters also study the dead before they can paint the living.

1. The Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch

A Portion from the Garden of Earthly Delights

A Portion from the Garden of Earthly Delights

The work of Hieronymus Bosch is the cherry on top of our unsettling paintings ‘cake’. This painter was linked to several disquieting and fantastic religious paintings in his career. The epitome of his work is The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych that unfolds on three panels: one with the Garden of Eden (and the creation of mankind) , One with The Garden of Earthly Delights, and one with the Punishments for the sins we do in the earthly garden. Leaving aside the terrors presented and the unimaginable torment present on the last panel, this masterpiece perfectly describes Bosch’s talent for details, and inclination towards symbolism. This paint is scary and morbidly fascinating at the same time.

What do you think of these paintings? We would love to hear your thoughts.