Museums tell the stories of humanity that someone found too important to be forgotten. Every trip through the museum helps you live the story, and if the story wasn’t funny, then you don’t get out smiling, do you? These museums from around the world don’t allow non-vetted walk-in visitors because some will pass out if they don’t die from the fright and the shock. From museums full of skeletons and hanging bodies to those that display flayed animals, here are 10 museums that can’t be visited by the faint-hearted.
The Catacombs Of The Capuchins
As the name suggests, this museum in Palermo, In Sicily, is a graveyard turned museum where the strong-hearted can go and spend the day with the dead. The place houses more than 8,000 bodies with the earliest one being the body of a monk mummified in 1599, which has since decayed to the bone. It was initially a cemetery for the Capuchinian monks only, but it was later opened to the public who could afford it hence the variety of bodies spanning four centuries.
The youngest corpse is that of a two-year-old girl Rosalia Lombardo which has been preserved in perfect shape and looks like a sleeping girl who could open her eyes at any moment. The preservation methods for the centuries-old bodies are mysterious. As you walk through, each body seems to tell a story of its own. Some still have skin, hair, and moustaches, while others are bare skulls still hanging off the walls and in glass boxes as they were interred. The whole experience needs a strong stomach and probably a friend to hold your arm as you cross the valley of death.
The Mutter Museum
The Mutter Institute Of Medical Research is the pride of Philadelphia, and the Mutter Museum may just be America’s best-resourced but scariest medical museum. As you walk into the museum, you notice a cabinet lined with human skulls of various ages and sizes labelled with the cause of death. The entire museum is full of what everyone would call gory artefacts, including the preserved skeleton of a dwarf mother and her baby who died during childbirth. The Wax-modelled face of Madame Dimanche with a strange horn growing out of her skull and a piece of Albert Einstein’s brain all line up the museum’s shelves.
The Lombroso Museum Of Criminal Anthropology
Cesare Lombroso was a 19th-century Italian military doctor who believed that criminal behaviour had something to do with a deformity in the skull of the criminal. He started collecting and studying skulls comparing the skulls of criminals hanged at the gallows and that of madmen and other unique psychiatric cases. His collection grew to include the skulls of soldiers and brains of patients that died in asylums. All these are part of his creepy museum, which has now been taken over by the International Museum Of Man and increased the collection in the museum. It is nearly as scary as the catacombs except for the gallows of Turin, which was decommissioned in 1865, which make part of his collection. A day in this museum will bring you face to face with the death of each criminal, psychiatric patient or soldier.
The Museum Of Animal Anatomy
One of the oldest veterinary schools in Paris is the Ecole Nationale Verinaire d’Alfort dating back to the 1700s. However, the man that made the museum’s current museum famous was its director Honore Fragonard who joined in 1776 and had a thing for anatomy more than veterinary medicine. He had a special method of skinning animals that would leave the body with veins, arteries, and tendons visible. His collections include a lion that was killed just in the midst of a roar then flayed into a ghostly looking display.
He also flayed a horse amid a gallop and attached a waxed skeleton of its rider showing the image of a man skinned with veins and arteries showing. The show gets more ghostly as you move through the small museum, which displays graphic images of dead animals, deformed animal, and human fetuses and internal organs of animals all preserved in chemicals. It is not exactly the most animal-lover friendly sight, but the school makes up for it by treating animals.
The Purgatory Museum
Purgatory is the place where those who die to go to for their sins to be judged, well, Catholics at least. The soul is allegedly trapped in Purgatory until it pays for all its sins, a process that can be avoided if the loved ones left behind pray for the soul. It is a teaching that most believers found hard to believe or prove until 1897 when a fire burnt down part of the original Chapel Of Our Lady Of The Rosary, leaving behind an imprint of what looked like a human face in deep suffering. Victor Jouet, a French missionary, and other priests decided to go on the hunt for other artefacts that proved visitations by these souls in agony.
It was the birth of the Museum of the Holy Souls In Purgatory, which houses the largest collection of supernatural visits. The collections include a bible with the imprint of a burning human hand. There are pieces of clothes with strange imprints of faces and hands with stories of how suffering souls visited living people to remind them to make prayer or masses for them. The wide collection of scary drawings by people believed to have been haunted by their loved ones in Purgatory makes the museum look like a day through Purgatory itself.
The House On The Rock
Alex Jordan’s home called the house on the rock is one of the most interesting museums in America. It is different from traditional museums as it wasn’t necessarily meant to be an attraction for visitors, so Jordan decided to let it speak for itself. As you walk into the vast house, you don’t really expect to meet the scare of your life until you realize the dark rooms with scary collections in different places.
The rooms and the objects are not labelled, so you walk into one room and find a skeleton riding a strange sea monster. In another room, you find a giant looking squid while in another, a whale fights another strange sea monster. The strange smell of rot in some places and other scary objects can scare you from proceeding to the next room, but most visitors confess that, in the end, it is always worth it.
The Vent Haven Museum
Ever walked in a room and found two scary Chucky looking dolls or Annabels? Now imagine a whole auditorium with thousands of scary-looking dummies of all kind seated in a hall looking straight at you. That is what it looks like when you visit the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Haven, Cincinnati, Wisconsin. With the dim lighting and the silence in the room, standing at the stage feels like coming face to face with hundreds of Chucky’s.
The curator of the museum, Lisa Sweasy, who is a ventriloquist herself, tries to be as comforting and reassuring as possible, but that won’t make much difference if she leaves you alone in the room. The best idea, especially if you have dummy phobia, would be walking in with someone to grab their hand if you notice a very strange dummy looking at you.
The Medieval Torture Museum
Medieval torture was one of the most graphic of all time. The sheer description of the procedures is enough to cause your veins to freeze. There are many torture museums around the world, but the Torture Museum of Singel, Amsterdam, focused on teaching people about the need to uphold human rights is probably the most popular. The museum has a collection of almost everything ancient deprivation of humanity used to torture people in the name of punishing them.
From Judas Cradle, which was used to punish rapists and adulterers by ripping their orifices apart to the skull crusher that was used for interrogations at the threat of cracking the human head like an egg. Each torture tool has a horror story attached to it with some fixed with wax bodies and skulls to display the horrors that victims went through at the hands of medieval justice.
The Museum Of Vampirism
Vampirism is a phenomenon you only expect to find in the films, well, until you enter the museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures in Paris. Most visitors just call it the scary museum. It is the collection of the works of Jacques Sirgent, a scholar of Vampirism, sorcery, Occidental folklore, and other Macabre subjects. The museum feels like a walk through Dracula’s chambers. As you get in, you may feel like you are entering an open cemetery as the well-maintained garden has dead animals and dummies of human body parts hanging from the branches.
You come across the preserved bodies and dummies of witches that were burnt at the stake. He also collected and translated strange texts and other items, including vampire killing kits and other material on the alleged presence of supernatural creatures from all over the world. You can also buy mystic books that turn to dust upon touch and other collections that will remind you of vampires and ghosts forever.
The Siriraj Medical Museum
Medical museums prove to be more of horror sites to the visitors than places of study. This particular one in Bangkok, Thailand, is also called the museum of death due to the graphic collections of dead bodies and human body parts on display. The museum is owned by Thailand’s oldest medical research hospital, and the collection of bodies and skulls are from willing donors. You will see skulls in cupboards and deformed fetuses preserved in Formaldehyde. The scariest are the bodies of conjoined twins preserved in chemicals on display. It is probably the scariest medical museum in the world.