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5 Museums worth the visit

March 19th, 2012


Photo credit: SpyMuseum.org

A vacation would be incomplete without a stop-in at a local museum to brush up on culture and history. But when you’re finished checking out the natural history, science, and art museums, you should make a beeline for an “Unusual” and very local museum whose collections can sometimes be out of this world!

Toronto Canada


Photo credit: Steve Harris on Flickr

Be prepared to be educated and intrigued! The Bata Shoe Museum, located in Toronto’s prestigious Yorkville area, opened in 1995. Since the 1940’s, Mrs. Sonja Bata, of Bata shoe fame, has amassed a collection of shoes of every description, from the most ordinary to the most extraordinary. As a result, her passion became a collection and then a museum! The museum’s collections, from numerous cultures and icons of histories (and which all tell a story) have grown to number 12,500 shoes and artifacts. In addition to the permanent galleries (Which will amaze you), the museum often features themed exhibitions.

What was it like to be a knight going into battle and donning long pointed sabatons? What can intricately crafted beaded moccasins indicate about trade patterns in Native North America? How have shoes signified status in different cultures? Visit the museum when you are are Toronto and you will find out!

Washington DC


Photo credit: SpyMuseum.org

Located a few blocks from DC’s main museum corridor along the National Mall, the International Spy Museum is the only museum in the world devoted to espionage. If you ever aspired to be a spy, you can learn the tricks and trades of spies, both historic and fictitious, with plenty of hands-on and interactive exhibits that appeal to history buffs and James Bond wannabes.

The International Spy Museum opened in Washington, DC on July 19, 2002. It is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage and the only one in the world to provide a global perspective on an all-but-invisible profession that has shaped history and continues to have a significant impact on world events.

The Museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. The Museum focuses on human intelligence and reveals the role spies have played in world events throughout history. It is committed to the apolitical presentation of the history of espionage in order to provide visitors with nonbiased, accurate information.

Houston Texas


Photo credit: Funeralhistorian on Wikimedia Commons

The National Museum of Funeral History houses the country’s largest collection of funeral service artifacts and features renowned exhibits on one of man’s oldest cultural customs. Here, you can discover the mourning rituals of ancient civilizations, see up-close the authentic items used in the funerals of U.S. presidents and popes, and explore the rich heritage of the industry which cares for the dead.

In 2005, the Museum began collaborating with the Vatican for what would become its hallmark exhibit, Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes. A collection of authentic items were acquired for display, including the Popemobile used by Pope John Paul II in 1982, original uniforms worn by The Swiss Guard (responsible for the Pope’s personal security) and vestments from the tailor shop in Rome which has clothed the last seven Popes.

The National Museum of Funeral History was founded in 1992 by Mr. Robert L. Waltrip, who spent 25 years dreaming of an institution which would educate the public and preserve the heritage of funerals. The Museum has grown to become the largest educational center on funerary customs in the United States and perhaps the world.

Roswell New Mexico


Photo credit: Frank Pierson on Flickr

If the truth is out there, the UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell has the goods to support the argument. Both believers and skeptics can enter the great debate at this museum, which contains memorabilia from the highly debated flying-saucer crash in Roswell in 1947 and the alleged government cover-up as well as information on related otherworldly phenomena.

In July 1947, something happened northwest of Roswell, New Mexico, during a severe thunderstorm.

Was it a flying saucer? Was it a weather balloon? What happened?

In early 1990, the idea of a home for information about the Roswell Incident and other UFO phenomena was fostered. The Roswell UFO Museum is a non-profit educational organization with the mission of educating the general public on all aspects of the UFO phenomena. The museum maintains its position as the serious side of the UFO phenomena.

New York City New York / Los Angeles California


Photo credit: Popculturegeek on Flickr

The Paley Center for Media, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public.

The Paley Center for Media has an international collection of nearly 150,000 programs covering almost 100 years of television and radio history, including news, public affairs programs and documentaries, performing arts programs, children’s programming, sports, comedy and variety shows, and commercial advertising. Programming from over seventy countries is represented in the collection. “Lost” radio and television programs recovered by The Paley Center for Media and preserved in the collection include Super Bowl III, a Rat Pack benefit variety show, and James Dean performances.

The general public can access the collection and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media.

Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry.

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