Sure, you’ve visited the Louvre in Paris and the MOMA in New York but have you visited some of these small and unique museums we’ve found? While smaller in size, they dive straight into a topic, covering everything from the history of salt to the stories of New York’s tenements. Here are five museums you’ve likely never heard of… but should definitely visit. These smaller museums are rarely crowded, usually only cost a pound or so to enter and will tell you stories you never thought you’d hear. They’ll often leave you feeling just as refreshed, cultured and enlightened as any big ticket museum would. The next time you find yourself in London, New York, Paris or elsewhere and look up one of these small museums.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum – New York
This New York museum preserves the stories of America’s immigrants in one of the humble brick buildings that many called home in the 19th and early 20 centuries. A guided tour takes you around the building to apartments which have been recreated to tell the stories of immigrant families from Poland, Ireland and Germany. The “Shop Tour” takes you through thirty stores that operated in the basement between 1863 and 1988, including a completely restored German saloon from 1870! This is a must if you’re interested in New York City history.
Tobacco & Salt Museum – Tokyo
Sounds like a funny match for a museum, right? But not in Japan. Salt and tobacco have been important products for Japanese culture and for international trade for centuries. This museum tracks the history through artefacts and dioramas, including a display on the bitter leaf and its impact of Japanese life and culture. One room even houses a grey crystalline salt cylinder whose circumference matches that of a small whale.
Museum of Counterfeiting – Paris
Can you spot a fake? How about the difference between a real BIC pen and a knock off? Real ones always have a hope on the top of the cap. Play a game of “spot the difference” as you wander through the Musee de la Contrefacon. This museum was opened by the French trade group Union des Fabricants in the 1950s in order to educate the French public on counterfeit products. The collection includes everything from Barbi dolls to Tabasco sauce, Swiss Army knives and Dior handbags.
Fan Museum – London
You can see a lot of fancy things in London from the past, but this museum takes a look at just one accessory from the world of fashion that was used by the Royals, rich and famous for centuries. The museum is housed in a Georgian townhouse in London’s Greenwich neighbourhood and is home to some 4,000 antique fans, some of which date back to the 11th century. Extend your stay by enjoying afternoon tea in the museum’s orangery.
Museum Vrolik – Amsterdam
Amsterdam on the whole has some pretty unusual and small museums but we think this one tops the list. Museum Vrolik houses an incredible collection of pathological specimens, from bones and skulls to other freaky science stuff. It’s the collection of Gerardus Vrolik, one of the most important Dutch scientists of the 1800s. His collection was purchased by a group of local citizens who then placed it in an institution call the Athenaem Illustre, which later was name the University of Amsterdam.