15 of the Spookiest, Creepiest Museums Ever
Photo By: CARL DE SOUZA / Getty Images
Photo By: Allentown Morning Call
Photo By: Colin McPherson
Photo By: The Washington Post
Photo By: International Cryptozoology Museum
Photo By: Stephanie Clement/Jacques Sirgent Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures
Photo By: Pedro Gonzalez Castillo/CON
Photo By: Neilson Barnard
Photo By: Museum of Death
Photo By: Edgar Allen Poe Museum
Photo By: St. Joseph Museums/Glore Psychiatric Museum
Photo By: American Museum of Natural History / R Mickens
Jack the Ripper Museum, London, England
Take the official "Jack the Ripper Walk" at this museum, and you’ll be following in the footsteps, so to speak, of the infamous serial killer. Visitors can view recreated scenes from his crimes on six different levels, propelling them back to 1888, when Jack launched his killing spree. As you explore the exhibits, created from the prespective of the women who were his victims, you’ll be able to use actual clues from that era, so you can try to solve the mystery of Jack’s true identity. Steel yourself to read old newspaper accounts of the murders and to see original autopsy photos and knives like the ones that were probably used in his gruesome mutilations.
Jack stalked his victims through darkened streets and winding alleyways. Keep that in mind when you leave the Jack the Ripper Museum and walk home alone.
The Mutter Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Don’t visit this museum, named for an early 19th-century physician, if you’re going to the doctor anytime soon. Considered America’s finest museum of medical history, this is a collection of medical instruments and preserved anatomical specimens. The Mutter Museum wants visitors to appreciate both the beauty and the mysterious elements of their own bodies—but some of these exhibitions from the past may send you running for the door.
There’s the Soap Lady, for example, a woman whose body was exhumed in 1875. She’s encased in a fatty substance which sometimes forms in certain alkaline, airless and warm conditions—such as being buried. It’s thought that she died during a yellow fever epidemic, which is frightening enough. But it’s her toothless mouth, open as if she’s screaming, that’s the most disturbing. Other exhibits feature instruments used for bleeding patients, removing excess bodily fluids, slides cut from Einstein's brain and more. The excellent museum has significant educational and historical value. It’s also pretty creepy.
Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, Drumnadrochit Scotland
Walk through 500 million years of history with the multi-media presentations at Scotland’s Loch Ness Centre. Is Nessie, the seldom-seen sea monster, real, a hoax, or a product of fevered imaginations? The exhibits are arranged in seven themed areas, so you can decide for yourself as you explore the famous legend and view underwater films and photos shot by serious researchers. A digital display with lasers and special effects takes you through Scotland’s past, weaving in folklore surrounding the monster, and updates you on current efforts to find it.
Unsightly remains of some kind of creature washed up on the shores of Loch Ness earlier this year. But they look pretty suspicious, so the search goes on.
The Mothman Museum, Point Pleasant, W.V.
Is the large, man-like creature with wings and red eyes a myth, legend, or a real monster? Since 1966, witnesses have claimed they've seen the Mothman. Whatever he is—or was—he inspired a book about his threatening appearances in 1975, and a supernatural/horror movie, The Mothman Prophecies, in 2002.
Visitors to the Mothman Museum can view documents written by eyewitnesses as well as photos of West Virginia's Silver Bridge, which collapsed under rush-hour traffic and killed 46 people; many people linked the bridge disaster to the reported sightings.
Before you leave, make a selfie with the 12-foot-tall, stainless steel Mothman statue standing next to the museum. It already has red eyes, so you won’t have to worry about a reflection from your flash.
International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine
Named one of the world’s 10 weirdest museums by Time, the International Cryptozoology Museum at Thompson's Point, in Portland, Maine, may make you believe in creatures you never believed in before, like Bigfoot and the Yeti (sometimes known as the Abominable Snowman, although some people claim they're different beasts). It also houses a replica of a rare, carnivorous marsupial and exhibits of legendary monsters like the Jersey Devil, the Dover Demon, and the Napes/Skunk Apes. At least, we hope they’re legends. We’re sleeping with the lights on, just in case.
Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures, Paris, France
Try not to shiver when you pass the vampire killing kit, macabre works of art (like this portrait of the so-called Blood Countess of Hungary, by artist Stephanie Clement), stacks of old books, spooky movie props and occult items at this small, private museum in Paris. Owned by historian Jacques Sirgent, the Museum of Vampires and Legendary Creatures focuses on the fanged undead and their place in folklore, as well as in the modern world. Call ahead; you'll probably need an appointment to get in. Before you arrive, hang some garlic around your neck and tuck a wooden stake into your pocket.
Museum of The Mummies, Guanajuato, Mexico
The bodies in Mexico's Museum of the Mummies may have been buried after an outbreak of cholera in the 1830s. It's thought they were disinterred, beginning in the 1860s, after their families were unwillling or unable to pay a local tax to ensure permanent burials. Some of the bodies may have been embalmed, while the climate may have naturally mummified others. After the bodies were removed and stored in a nearby building, tourists began coming to see them, and the official museum was born. The 111 mummies of men, women and children may make you shiver as you wonder who they were in life.
Morbid Anatomy Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Creepy takes on a new twist at the Morbid Anatomy Museum, which houses a display of taxidermied kittens dressed for a wedding. You can expect to see a mix of high culture and low-brow exhibits here rarely found elsewhere. The museum's library is filled with research books, images, art and just plain quirky items relating to medical history, death, anatomical art and more.
This October, the museum will host a mind reader, a lecturer debating whether absinthe is a “divine spirit or a sinful fiend,” and, on Halloween, a beginners' entomology workshop. The day before, Oct. 29, the museum will present an anthropomorphic mouse taxidermy class. We bet visitors are dying to come.
Museum of Death, Hollywood California and New Orleans, Louisiana
You could say California’s Museum of Death has a deadly past; it was orignally located in San Diego’s first mortuary. It was later moved to Hollywood, and a simiar museum opened in New Orleans. A self-guided tour takes 45 minutes or so, but as the website says, “those who can stomach it stay as long as they like.” This place isn’t for the faint of heart. There are videos of autopsies, footage of real deaths, photos of the Charles Mansion crimes, images from the horrific Black Dahlia murder and more gore. Look (if you dare) for collections of coffins and autopsy instruments. Be forewarned: visitors sometimes pass out, so you may want to bring an unflappable friend with a bottle of smelling salts.
The Salem Witch Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Some of America’s most unjust trials were conducted in Salem in 1692, when a daughter’s testimony about seeing her mother fly through the trees, or the accusation that an innocent birthmark or mole was a witch’s mark, was enough to send people to the gallows, or cause them to be crushed under heavy stones. The Salem Witch Memorial, with commemorative stones like the one shown here, is nearby.
At the museum itself, look for documents from the trials and life-size sets and figures illuminated by atmospheric lightning. A spine-tingling narrative takes you through the timeline of events. The Salem Witch Museum offers “haunted happenings” each Halloween, and you can stay until its extended closing time, at midnight, this October 28, 29 and 31. If you're not afraid, that is.
Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond, Virginia
Here’s where you’ll find the world’s best collection of author Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscripts, first editions, letters and other memorabilia. The atmosphere evokes early 19th-century Richmond, where Poe penned much of his macabre work about cats and humans sealed up in walls, castles invaded by plague and brutal murders committed in locked rooms. Poe died after being found in a Baltimore public house in 1849, drifting in and out of consciousness. The cause of his death is unknown. When will we know what happened to this master of the darkness? We suspect the answer is "Nevermore".
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, Fall River, Massachusetts
Can you sleep in the house where Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were brutally murdered in 1892?
No? Well, maybe a day tour wouldn’t be as chilling.
Located about 50 miles south of Boston, the former home of the Bordens now allows guests to book overnight and stay for breakfast the next morning. We hear you can even request the same (last) meal the Bordens ate. The house is now outfitted with ghost cams to capture paranormal activity. Some visitors have reported strange happenings, like camera malfunctions, or the feeling that someone is sitting on the edge of the beds at night.
Lizzie was tried and ultimately acquitted for the deaths; her peers must have found it hard to believe that a woman in that era would wield a hatchet or axe against her own relatives. She spent the rest of her life in Fall River, although the townspeople continued to gossip about her—an unkind cut, indeed.
Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscasatle, Cornwall, U.K.
Are you brave enough to tour the U.K.'s Museum of Witchcraft and Magic by candlelight? If you miss one of the special, lantern-lit evening events, or you're leery of mysterious, spooky artifacts half-hidden in the shadows, never fear. You can see the glass spirit bottles, skulls, witches' charms and other pagan artifacts during the day, too. Book ahead to take a witches' workshop and explore magic throughout history with a practicing priestess/witch, or take a Folklore and Magic Walk (check the website for dates and times). Don't miss the Glitter and Graveyard Dust exhibit, offered through January 2017; you'll learn about the history, customs, costumes and magic of Halloween from ancient times to today.
Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri
Just because the Glore Psychiatric Museum has won awards for its medical history collections, don't think it won't creep you out. The museum covers 130 years of mental health treatments and features old surgical tools, nurses’ uniforms, electroshock equipment, hospital furnishings and much more. You’ll see artwork created by a mute schizophrenic and other mentally ill patients, along with 453 nails retrieved from the stomach of a truly disturbed individual.
The museum, founded in 1874 as St. Joseph’s State Lunatic Asylum No. 2, is arguably the best place in the U.S. to see how mental health care has evolved. An inactive blog about the museum still invites visitors to “psych out.”
American Museum of Natural History, New York, N.Y.
Imagine a time when meat-eating dinosaurs dominated the Earth with their terrible teeth and talons. Your heart may pound harder when you walk in the shadow of the fossilized remains and replicas of these ancient beasts at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Or float on over to the Opulent Oceans exhibit to see reproductions of rare, scientific illustrations, like the Vampire Squid. The museum is recognized as one of the finest cultural and scientific institutions in the world, but it'll make you think twice before you go swimming again.