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Reinventing the museum: odd exhibitions from all over the world

Today’s museums can be dedicated to any topic in the world. Isn’t that wonderful? When you’re in a new city, you don’t have to go to a stuffy natural history museum in order to feel cultured. In fact, some museums can make you feel the opposite – they can be shocking or risque. Here’s a guide to some of the most unusual museums in the world.

Museum of Failure

Helsingborg, Sweden.

Google, Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Nokia, Colgate, Harley Davidson – what do these companies have in common, apart from their colossal profits? Some very expensive mistakes. Their failed attempts are showcased in an unusual museum which has recently opened in Helsingborg. This is where you can stare at a lasagna made by Colgate (it’s very existence raises a lot of questions), see the Harley-Davidson cologne, a boring Monopoly knock-off manufactured by Donald Trump, a technically weak and overpriced gaming console by Apple, Google Glass (no comments here) and many other failed innovations. There are more than a hundred items showcased in the museum. And although they brought nothing but huge losses to their creators, the curators of the exhibition point out that economic progress is impossible without innovation. And innovation is always risky. So the goal of the museum is to stimulate a productive discussion about failed innovations, analyze their nature and inspire the visitors to invent and create their own groundbreaking products.

Superhero Museum

Elkhart, USA.

It might be odd, but this small midwestern town populated by a mere fifty thousand people is home to a stunning collection of superherorelated memorabilia. The exhibition consists of more than sixty thousand comic books, ten thousand toys and games and over a hundred original comic art pages and animation pieces. All of these fantastic exhibits are showcased in a two story replica of The Hall of Justice from the Super Friends cartoon that aired in the 1970s and focused on the adventures of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and the other DC Comics heroes. According to Dan Nash, the 52-year-old founder of the museum, this collection is the largest in the USA.

The Human Body Museum

Oegstgeest, The Netherlands.

As you drive along the Amsterdam-Hague motorway, it is difficult to ignore a huge 35-meter human figure made out of steel. This is Corpus, one of the most amazing museums on the planet. It literally transports us into the human body. You enter the museum through the human-shaped building’s knee. The visitors travel through all of the main parts of a human body, walk past the internal organs, see the muscles, the heart, kidneys, the digestive system, lungs, ears, eyes and the brain. You can even see what happens to our body when it’s injured, or examine the effects of bad habits. When you get to the uterus, you can witness the creation of new human life and the development of an embryo. In the room devoted to the head, you can jump on a huge replica of a tongue as if it were a trampoline. The concept of this unique museum was developed over twelve years and it took another two to build it. The projects’ budget was over $30 million.

Museum of Broken Relationships

Zagreb, Croatia.

Naturally, this museum was founded by two ex-partners – Olinka Vištica, a film producer, and Dražen Grubišić, a sculptor. After their four-year relationship came to an end, the two joked about setting up a museum to house the left-over personal items that were left over after the long-term relationship and which had no place in couple’s new lives. Then they asked their friends to donate objects left behind from their unsuccessful relationships. This was how the first exhibition was created, and soon it grew into a whole museum. Today, the exhibition is amazingly varied. There are toys, household items, pieces of decor, clothes, books and other memorable things. All of the items are presented with notes in both croatian and english. These are sad love stories, written by the items’ previous owners. There is even a separate room with stories, that didn’t get their happy ending.

Vasa Museum

Stockholm, Sweden.

The Vasa Museum is a great example of how you can take a failure from the XVII century and turn it into a hugely successful touristic case. Back in 1628, the Swedish warship Vasa was pompously sent on its maiden journey from a naval station in Stockholm. Reaching 69 meters in length and weighing 1200 tonnes, decorated with hundreds of carved wooden figures and armed with 64 cannons, this ship should have been the flagship of the Swedish fleet. So, all of the passengers were in their places, the ship set sail, all of its cannons firing as a celebratory salute. The Vasa left the harbour and started its maiden journey. But after a few gusts of wind, the Vasa suddenly heeled. The water rushed through the open gunports and into the deck, sinking the ship. In 1956, while studying the seabed near the island Beckholmen, engineer Anders Franzén and diver Per Edwin Felting found a large wooden object, which turned out to be a part of a sunken ship’s hull. There were the remains of the Vasa, and, after spending more than three hundred years on the bottom of the sea, the ship was finally rediscovered. Bringing the ship to the service took another five years. Along with the hull, the rescuers salvaged approximately fourteen thousand wooden parts. The restoration of the warship was much like putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle. Today, Vasa is the only sailing ship from the XVII century, which has remained intact. And we owe this to the engineering mistake which caused Vasa to sink. Since 1990, the ship is housed in a specially built museum in Stockholm. In addition to the ship itself, the Vasa Museum houses many other thematic exhibits which illustrate the short maiden journey of the warship and provide background on the sailors’ life and traditions. According to its official website, the Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia.

Matchstick Museum

Kharkiv, Ukraine

This museum houses the personal collection of matchstick enthusiast Volodymyr Linyviy, who has managed to gather more than three thousand matchboxes and more than six thousand labels. All of these items illustrate history in their own way. The showcased items are decorated with portraits of soviet actors and writers, drawings of monuments and illustrations of notable events, such as the 1980 Olympic Games held in Moscow. In addition to local memorabilia, the exhibition has matchboxes from Hungary, Austria, Italy, Bali, India and Thailand. And it keeps growing. Volodymyr is still on the lookout for new curiosities, he scouts flea markets for curious matchboxes and trades online with his fellow collectors.