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21 FEBRUARY 2011


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Article from BTNews 21 FEBRUARY 2011

ON TOUR: The World's Quirkiest Museums

A survey by Virgin Atlantic has revealed that sightseeing and experiencing culture are the most popular activities for Brits when they travel abroad.  35.6% of the respondents chose sightseeing as their favourite holiday activity compared to 22.1% who chose lying in the sun and 4.3% who prefer to shop. 

Many travellers are familiar with cultural institutions such as the Met, the V&A, the Guggenheim and the Getty Centre.  What Virgin has done is to make some suggestions for tourists with the obscure, less well-documented and the just plain bizarre destinations.  There is only one catch (which is not too obscure) and that is all the suggestions are on the Virgin Atlantic route network.

The Bunny Museum, Los Angeles
27,351 Bunny Items!  Multiplying Daily!  Most Bunnies in the World! states the rather exuberant website of Pasadena’s Bunny Museum.  Located in the private home of bunny devotees and married couple Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski, the ‘living museum’ is a testament to their longstanding love of the fluffy animal, and is jam-packed with bunny matter, real and stuffed. www.thebunnymuseum.com

The Meguro Parasitological Museum, Tokyo
Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, encourages Tokyo’s Meguro Parasitological Museum. It’s a good piece of advice, because a trip here will put visitors face to face with more than 300 specimens, including the world’s longest tapeworm which – at almost 9 metres – was pulled out of its human host.  There’s a gift shop too, so you can stock up on flea key rings and tick t-shirts. http://kiseichu.org/english.aspx

Musee Mecanique, San Francisco
Home to one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated antique arcade games and musical instruments; the Musee Mecanique is a truly enchanting dose of nostalgia.  Bring pocketfuls of quarters to play some of the ancient pinball machines, and don’t miss the toothpick fairground, handcrafted by the inmates of San Quentin prison. www.museemechanique.org

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York
Heaven on earth for cartoon and comic book fans, MoCCA takes its stated mission to promote the appreciation of cartoon and comic art very seriously.  Every conceivable variation of the genre is represented within its collection, from animation and political illustrations to graphic novels and computer art.  It even organises an annual two-day festival which attracts thousands of fans, artists and publishers from across the globe – the next is 9-11 April 2011. www.moccany.org

The Propaganda Museum, Shanghai
With modern China forging a path towards prosperity, it’s easy to forget the extent to which the collective consciousness of the Chinese people was influenced by Mao and his Red Guard groups in the Cold War and Cultural Revolution eras.  The artworks of the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center played an enormous part in attempting to create a sense of optimism, leader worship, industriousness, brotherhood and reverence for past glories, and this remarkable museum documents and preserves more than 5,000 examples. www.shanghaipropagandaart.com

The Museum of South African Hip-Hop, Cape Town
Newly opened this year, the first hip-hop museum in South Africa charts the turbulent course of the country’s hip-hop scene, from the voter education campaigns of Prophets of da City to award-winning rapper Zulu Boy.  More than just a museum, the ‘urban music emporium’ sports a production studio and practice facilities, and aims to promote hip-hop as a positive choice of activity for South Africa’s youth. www.samuseum.africanhiphop.com

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, Delhi
The humble loo is displayed here in all its guises, from early privies to decorative chamber pots and bidets to fancy thrones.  Put your Delhi belly jokes to one side however, because the this museum is actually the side project of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who runs a well-respected non-profit organisation which campaigns for the expansion of sanitation to India’s poorest villages. (Maybe Embraer should sponsor this one – see AERBT above) www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org

Tao Heung Museum of Food Culture, Hong Kong
Any museum that has a “Rice Zone” and a “Seasoning Zone” is surely worth a visit.  The Museum of Food Culture in Hong Kong, previously known as Foods of Mankind, was established to promote an understanding of different food cultures around the world and, along with various simulated restaurant settings; it offers guided tours of tableware, utensils and containers. www.taoheung.com.hk/eng/corporate/charityevents.jsp

The Mob Museum, Las Vegas
Although not set to open for another few months, the Mob Museum is already causing controversy with debates raging in Sin City between those who view a museum dedicated to the Mob as glamorising organised crime and those who see it as a genuine attempt to tell the real story behind what made Las Vegas the city it is today.  The museum, which aims to “provide fresh insights” into Vegas’s battle with crime over the past 70 years, will be located within the former federal courthouse and US Post Office, one of the last remaining historically significant buildings in Las Vegas and it is hoped it will help to revitalise the downtown area. www.themobmuseum.org

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