Top 10 Museum Mysteries

Check out some of the most mysterious, scandalous and bizarre objects housed in American museums.

Photos

Whale Rescue

Whale Rescue

On display outside of the Inupiat Heritage Center in Point Barrow, AK, is the large skull of a gray whale. The skull serves as a reminder of an incredible mission that rescued 2 gray whales trapped under the frozen Beaufort Sea. 960 1280

  

Whale Rescue

Whale Rescue

The Iñupiat Heritage Center has in its collection a machine that was used in a remarkable marine animal rescue mission. This odd, industrial-looking object played a critical role in an international incident that captivated the world. 960 1280

  

Mini-Ball Pregnancy

Mini-Ball Pregnancy

The Old Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg, MS, displays a bullet that is connected to a shocking tale of a seemingly immaculate conception. 960 1280

  

Mini-Ball Pregnancy

Mini-Ball Pregnancy

This stunning medical mystery baffled scientists and the general public alike in the years following the Civil War -- until one man published a surprising report, proving that Dr. Legrand Caper’s claim that a bullet ricocheting off a man's testicle and into a women's belly could make her pregnant was impossible. 960 1280

  

Bottle-Popping Poltergeist

Bottle-Popping Poltergeist

The Rhine Research Center and Parapsychology Museum in Durham, NC, contains a deck of cards that tells a haunting tale of untold powers and possession that terrorized an innocent family. 960 1280

  

Bottle-Popping Poltergeist

Bottle-Popping Poltergeist

In the winter of 1958, the Herman family of Long Island, NY, believed that their youngest son, Jimmy, was playing tricks on them. After objects began to break and move on their own, Dr. Pratt, a parapsychologist at Duke University, was brought in. But he was unable to determine what the cause of the disturbances were, which remains a mystery to this day. 960 1280

  

Diamond Mine Murder

Diamond Mine Murder

At the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR, the Diamond Discovery Center has a document that speaks to a bitter feud decided by greed, trickery and murder. This simple piece of paper is connected to what remains of one of Arkansas’ most infamous crimes. 960 1280

  

Diamond Mine Murder

Diamond Mine Murder

Diamonds found on this coveted piece of property -- 1 of only 2 diamond craters in the entire United States -- are 10-30% more valuable on the diamond market. To this day, tourists still flock to the Arkansas park in the hopes of finding diamonds for themselves. 960 1280

  

Winton Race

Winton Race

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, displays a weathered vehicle that was part of a revolutionary ride. This car changed the way Americans thought about long-distance travel and automobiles. 960 1280

  

Winton Race

Winton Race

In 1903, Horatio Nelson Jackson attempted to become the first person to successfully drive an automobile across the country. Despite countless setbacks, 63 days after leaving San Francisco, Jackson arrived in New York City, completing the nation's first successful cross-country car journey. 960 1280

  

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

On display inside the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library in Guthrie, OK, is an ordinary-looking pistol. Dedicated to preserving the history of Oklahoma, this museum houses a wide array of artifacts from the state’s boom times. 960 1280

  

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

This pistol marked the beginning of a dark and outlandish journey spanning 7 decades and thousands of miles, but how is it linked to a macabre funhouse mummy’s real identity? 960 1280

  

San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Among the venerated vessels of flight at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in California is an ordinary lawn chair with milk jugs attached to it with rope and tape. 960 1280

  

Flying lawn chair

Flying lawn chair

This jerry-rigged piece of outdoor furniture was used by an unlikely pilot to soar to unimaginable heights. 960 1280

  

Grover Cleveland Bergdoll's house

Grover Cleveland Bergdoll's house

This former home of Grover Cleveland Bergdoll is where he grew up in the lap of luxury after escaping police custody. 960 1280

  

Model B Flyer

Model B Flyer

This Model B Flyer at the Franklin Institute was once the prized possession of a wealthy scoundrel who led law enforcement on a manhunt and kicked off a frenzied search for hidden gold that continues to this day. 960 1280

  

Museum of Chinese in America

Museum of Chinese in America

Located in New York City’s bustling Chinatown district, the Museum of Chinese in America documents the trials the Chinese undertook to start over in the United States. Its collection includes a small paper sculpture that symbolizes the universal dream for freedom. 960 1280

  

Museum of Chinese in America

Museum of Chinese in America

This small sculpture symbolizes the unbelievable lengths some people took in hopes for a better life. What harrowing circumstances led to this sculpture’s creation? 960 1280

  

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

Striving to preserve New Jersey’s rich history, the Thomas Warne Historical Museum in Old Bridge, NJ, has an artifact on display that has been scarred by a violent past, telling a tale of unprecedented devastation. 960 1280

  

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

This jagged artillery shell played a role in a terrible tragedy that shook a small American town at the height of World War I. 960 1280

  

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station houses items that commemorate the country’s 41st president. But a helmet on display honors another famous Texan and is linked to a scorching tale of bravery. 960 1280

  

Red Adair

Red Adair

Who wore this helmet, and how did his heroism extinguish a fire some people thought would burn forever? 960 1280

  

Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud

At Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in New York City’s Times Square, is a wax figure that’s not instantly recognizable to the average visitor. But Madame Tussaud’s intelligence and innate talent helped her launch one of the world’s most unique art forms. 960 1280

  

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum has roots dating back to Paris in 1770. There, the museum’s namesake learned the art of wax modeling from her mentor, Dr. Philippe Curtius. In 2000, a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum opened in Times Square. 960 1280

  

Municipal Archives in New York City

Municipal Archives in New York City

At the Municipal Archives in New York City is a black and white negative that contains an image of a deadly weapon used in a sinister plot. How was one woman enlisted to become an unlikely assassin and what became of the man who orchestrated this bizarre tale of love and revenge? 960 1280

  

Municipal Archives in New York City

Municipal Archives in New York City

New York’s Municipal Archives was founded in 1950 and is home to records, census data and directories that help its patrons research their family history. 960 1280

  

San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum

On the grounds of the San Diego Air & Space Museum stands a colossal missile. When a corrosion problem threatened to ground this powerful projectile for good, the search for a solution led to the creation of one of the country’s most common household products: WD-40. 960 1280

  

San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum

The San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park has more than 120 pieces of aircrafts in their collection. 960 1280

  

Money Museum

Money Museum

At the Money Museum in Colorado Springs, CO, is a tiny 5-cent piece that has become one of the world’s most valuable coins, worth over $3.1 million today. 960 1280

  

Money Museum

Money Museum

The Money Museum at the American Numismatic Association houses a number of galleries dedicated to the association’s comprehensive collection of coins and paper money. 960 1280

  

The Kansas Museum of History

The Kansas Museum of History

The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka houses a 6-foot-long rusted piece of metal with a sharp point, known as the John Brown Pike. This artifact was part of an infamous armed rebellion that put the nation firmly on the road to war. 960 1280

  

The Kansas Historical Society

The Kansas Historical Society

The Kansas Historical Society was founded in 1875, and today, the museum sits on 80 acres of land devoted to preserving the state’s great history. 960 1280

  

Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum

This model of a flour mill dust collector was created after the dust-ignited explosion at the Minneapolis, MN, Washburn A Mill in 1878, increasing the safety of future flour mill workers. 960 1280

  

Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum

Located on the Mississippi River, the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, MN, is built into the ruins of the world’s largest flour mill with many of the mill’s original features still in tact. 960 1280