Location: Guanajuato, Mexico
The El Museo is the museum of HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT!
Why… does that exist anywhere?
To say this is a museum full of mummies doesn’t even come close to conveying the unspeakable horror of this place. How about this: In ancient Rome, and college fraternities, there is a brutal and humiliating tradition known as running the gauntlet, during which you strip naked and run through a valley of horrors. Guanajuato’s El Museo De Las Momias (“Museum of the Mummies”) is just like that, except that it’s the spectators who are naked. And dead.
You know one of those hands will reach out and grab you.
The Mummies of Guanajuato are naturally preserved bodies from a cholera outbreak that hit Guanajuato way back in 1833. Since this is basically just a huge open grave with floodlights, its legality and moral status continues to be the subject of much discussion everywhere except in Mexico.
Most of the mummies on display were corpses whose families could not afford to pay a grave tax levied on their families once they died. If you failed to pay the taxes, you guessed it…
You went up on display.
Hey, have we mentioned the babies?
“Come play with us…”
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of nightmarish carnivals of the rotting dead…
Location: Palermo, Sicily
Welcome to Catacombe dei Cappuccini: the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily. Described as a “human library,” the Catacombs serve as an invaluable historic record on everything from clothing trends to fear tolerance.
In 1599, the monks who lived here discovered a great new method for embalming the dead, and as the situation warranted, they went to work embalming each other. Then wealthy locals wanted to be interred in the Capuchin Catacombs as a status thing.
Despite being as old as Galileo and bombed to hell during World War II, some of the inhabitants of the Capuchin Catacombs still look pretty fresh…
…And all of them dressed in the finest clothes, eagerly awaiting the Resurrection.
Seriously, what the fuck…
Location: St. Joseph, Missouri
The Glore Psychiatric Museum, formally known as Missouri’s State Lunatic Asylum No. 2, is like the Event Horizon of art galleries.
They call this one “Schizophrenia.”
The museum takes its name from one George Glore, who in the 60s, put his patients/inmates at the St. Joseph State Hospital to work building full-size replicas of some of the most horrific psychiatric practices from the last few centuries–which makes about as much sense as making the inmates at Guantanamo Bay build Big Macs until they love America.
Apparently, building creepy shit like this is a damn good way to get sane.
The result is a weird and terrifying excursion through the minds of a hundred lunatics, displaying patient art which ranges from sophisticated…
To South Park…
But the, uh, highlight of the museum has to be this magnificent mosaic, which was constructed entirely from the stomach contents of a woman suffering from compulsive swallowing.
That horror is 100 percent stomach contents.
It is actually hard to picture anyone going crazy over anything in Missouri, but now that we have seen what their hospitals look like, it is probably best to avoid the state. After all, the woman who swallowed those 1,446 objects died in surgery. So who the fuck made the mosaic?
How about the fact that it’s in some random dude’s basement in lower Maryland.
While there genuinely is a long history to menstruation’s imprint on culture, from its symbolic record to its inclusion in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, the Museum of Menstruation & Women’s Health is really just the story of one man with a dream: Harry Finley.
Since 1995, this humble, middle-aged American has devoted his life to making his private collection of feminine hygiene products and mutilated mannequins available to the public. His work has received accolades from Johns Hopkins University and The New York Times–at least according to his website–and Harry’s reputation has since blossomed from local neighborhood character to a character from a Thomas Harris novel.
Among the museum’s collections are a dress made out of tampons…
…well kept archives…
…and finally, the intimacy of knowing that you and Harry are the only people in the house. For real. Since 1999, all visits to the museum/Harry’s basement have had to be done by appointment and in private.
Location: Fort Mitchell, Kentucky
Everyone is scared of ventriloquist dummies. Like clowns, they’re the result of a serious miscalculation about the desirable elements of children’s entertainment. Most people wouldn’t want to be alone in a room with one. Go to the Vent Haven Museum in Kentucky, though, and you can be alone in a room with 750 of them.
“You’re in our house…”
The collection was started by a guy named, no joke, William Shakespeare Berger – an amateur ventriloquist and wealthy tycoon, who wound up blowing his vast fortune acquiring over 500 of these monsters up until the day he died. Whether Berger was controlling the dummies or vice-versa is a matter for debate.
The family portrait.
One of the museum’s notable acquisitions is the collection of famed ventriloquist William Wood, who was once billed as “the world’s greatest ventriloquist” until he died in a freak boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico. (Yeah, “accident.”) Four of his six dummies are on display at the museum, while the other two were lost at sea, no doubt while dragging William Wood to the bottom of the ocean by each pant leg.
The Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum has gone on to become the largest collection of ventriloquist dummies in the world, and all it required was a wealthy tycoon named William Shakespeare to tragically outlive his wife, his son, his grandson and thus find himself without any living heirs. Yes, we must specify living heirs.
“NONE OF YOU ARE SAFE!”
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum is without question the single most terrifying episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in history.
Hey, look. A sliced-off face.
Started in 1858 thanks to a donation from Dr. Thomas Dent Mutter, the museum’s collection of medical oddities began as an early version of Rotten.com. If you wanted to see the world’s biggest pimple or witness the biggest shit ever taken back in the day (for medical purposes, of course) all you needed to do was ask Dr. Mutter, then die a little inside.
The Mutter Museum is the current home of the Hyrtl Skull Collection: a wall of skulls with the oftentimes disturbing, sometimes hilarious descriptions as to how its owner died.
One of them reads “Idiot” for cause of death. Seriously.
This place also features a woman whom Philadelphians affectionately refer to as the Soap Lady…
…a nine-foot-long human colon that once contained over 40 pounds of shit…
…some inside-out babies…
Wait, what the?
Or at the very least a unicorn’s dong growing out of someone’s face.
…and finally, a whole bunch of creepy pictures of various horrible, disfiguring diseases…
…and other deformities:
More pressing question: Who will save us?
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