8 Quirky Art Museums You Need to Visit

07 Nov 2021 | 0 Comments

Sometimes you can get a bit fed up, seeing art by the same old artists, over and over again, at the typical art galleries and museums tourists flock to.


Every now and then, you want to admire paintings made on toilet seats, or chuckle at penis statues dotted around a seaside park... right?


Okay, maybe that’s just us. 

But either way, you’re going to want to know more about these weird and wonderful art galleries around the world, which might offer something a little different to the usual neo-classical façades and white walls we’re accustomed to.


1. The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art


This really isn’t your usual gallery location. Deep down, beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea, you’ll find an incredible world unlike any other.


Opened in 2010, this submarine art gallery is home to around 500 sculptures and draws in 200,000 visitors a year!


Most of the sculptures were designed by the British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, along with five Mexican sculptors.


The gallery was set up in order to preserve the local coral reefs, which were being damaged due to their popularity with tourists. 


Its aim was to provide not only a new location nearby for divers to go and explore, but also to develop new sea life support in and of itself! The concrete sculptures have a neutral PH level, so that seaweed, coral and algae are able to grow naturally on them.


How cool is that?!


2. Museum of Bad Art


Well, this one does exactly what it says on the tin.


It’s a museum... filled with (yep, you guessed it) very bad art.


“But art is subjective!” We hear you cry. 

Well, pay this museum a visit and you might have a more empirical view on the quality of art.


The museum has three locations around Boston, Massachusetts, and is home to more than 800 bad artworks, of which somewhere between 40 and 70 are on show at any given time.


Within the collection, the curators split the artworks into a number of sub-categories, which include: “Poor-traits”, “Dopplehangers” (poor-traits that intentionally or otherwise look like famous people), and “In The Nood”. 


3. The Toilet Seat Museum


Back in 1992, Barney smith set up a museum of art unlike any other.

 Barney, a plumber by day and artist by night, had spent years decorating toilet seats with all sorts of weird and wonderful artworks – from portraits, to logos, to maps, and scrabble tiles.


The gallery of toilet seats that Barney had set up became a popular spot for tourists and locals alike in its original location near San Antonio.


By 2019, when Barney celebrated his 98th birthday, the collection had reached an incredible 1200 toilet seats. All of which had been decorated by the man himself.


He decided it was time to sell off his collection. So, after a drunken session Googling, a Texan businessman found the collection and decided to put in an offer.


A deal was made, and now the toilet seat museum has a new permanent home in the bar of the ‘Texas Truck Yard’, which is also a music and events venue. 


4. The Dalí Museum


Okay, maybe Dalí is one of those artists who you can’t get away from. And maybe this is in and of itself one of those nasty tourist traps that everyone visiting Barcelona makes a day trip to...


But you can’t talk about quirky museums without mentioning this iconic temple of weirdness, designed by the world’s most famous surrealist. 


Dalí wanted to build a museum for his work which would leave people with the ‘sensation of having had a theatrical dream.’


And with everything from giant eggs along the rooftop, to a living room that looks like Mae West when viewed from a certain angle. 


There’s even a giant glass-domed theatre space, where you can find Dalí’s tomb hidden below the stage door.


So, you can’t deny he pretty much nailed his own brief!


5. The New York Earth Room


You might say, “what a load of sh...”


And you’d be perfectly correct.


This New York loft, located at 141 Wooster St, is literally a room filled with more than a thousand kilograms of soil.


The artist, Walter de Maria, created the space as a semi-natural haven among the hustle and bustle of downtown New York.


However, nowadays you can’t enjoy the primal feeling of earth between your toes... you can only look in from behind a rope – how boring.


6. The Museum of Broken Relationships


When two Croatian artists broke up, they joked that it’d be funny to set up a museum with all the items associated with their time together as a melancholy celebration of their relationship.


A few years later, they began to ask friends if they too had kept objects that held significance from previous relationships, which they could add to their collection. 


Before they knew it, the Museum of Broken Relationships was born!


Here you’ll find all sorts of paraphernalia, from axes (eek!) to high-heeled shoes and a jar of spicy Amish pickles.


It’s no surprise that this place is the 11th most visited museum in the whole of Croatia - what an accolade! – or that it has toured pop-up versions around the world, from Taipei to York.


A second permanent location, in LA, has also opened up in recent years as well.


Despite its slightly comical outward face, there is a deeper artistic meaning behind the museum’s existence. I mean, of course, artists couldn’t set something like this up without layering on some deep and meaningful bunkum over the top of it, could they?


To avoid their own (slightly complicated) explanation, it’s fair to say that the museum does genuinely raise questions about the connections between memory, emotion, and physical objects or space.


7. The Museum of Neon Art


Located in Glenfield, California, you’ll find this magical playground of all things neon!


From roadside signs, to moving advertisement boards, and even a sign from the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood – there’s all sorts of weird and wonderful items of Americana on display.


Their four key aims are: Exhibitions, Education, Preservation, and Community. 


And, not only do they focus on the obvious artistic interest in many of these wonderful artefacts, but they also celebrate the scientific elements associated with them too!


8. Haesindang Park


Finally, you’ll probably remember that penis park we mentioned in the intro...


Well, here it is!


The Haesindang Park, located on the East Coast of South Korea is surely one of the weirdest (and most wonderful) collections of art in the world.


Legend has it, that the local fascination with penis sculptures came after a woman had drowned at sea when she became stranded on a rock down by the beach. 


For years after that fateful day, the local people were unable to catch fish and they believed a curse had been placed upon them.


Thankfully, however, one day a man urinated in the sea and the fish returned!


It was thought that this showed that the virgin’s spirit could only be appeased by exposing it to men’s penises. 


So, what better reason to build an entire outdoor art gallery, dedicated to phallic sculptures, that range from anatomically accurate 7-foot-tall wood carvings, to those with animals and faces carved into them - and even a moving penis-cannon!