Morbid Sightseeing Alert!

When I was dating the girl in DC earlier this year, I made a trip to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.  Was it a rip-off at $21.95 compared to the great low cost (free!) of the Smithsonian museums?  Certainly it was.  But were there interesting things on display here?  Yes, there certainly are, including Gacy’s Pogo the Clown outfit.  So then isn’t it worth it?  Well, kind of, I suppose.

But the point is: It’s closing at the end of the month!  So, get out there now or wonder if it will ever open anywhere else for the rest of your life!

I’ll hurry up and put out my travelogue this week (if work allows) so that you can see what you’re missing if you choose not to make a trip.

Crime Museum Is Closing At The End of September

(Thanks to Ear for the heads up!)

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford, England)Interior2013

If old-fashioned anthropological morbidity is your cup of tea, then the Pitt Rivers Museum is the place for you!  A variety of artifacts from cultures all over the world (think shrunken heads and preserved skulls) in a ridiculously claustrophobic collection of cases (just look at that picture if you don’t believe me).  Have a look at the collection of artifacts photographed by Morbid Anatomy here.

Museum of Sepulchral Culture

Museum of Sepulchral Culture (Kassel, Germany)


This sounds like a goth dream come true!  A museum that blends death-themed modern art with ancient coffins, tombstones, hearses, framed death notices, memorial photography, embalming equipment, mourning clothing, etc.   Here’s an article that goes into greater depth on this fascinating museum:

German Museum of Death Anything But Morbid

Thanks to Steve ORourke for the link.

Meguro Parasitological Museum

Meguro Parasitological Museum (Tokyo, Japan)

Mel informed me of this delightful museum, which is described vividly on TIMEasia Magazine’s website: “Though it occupies only two floors of a small office building, the museum boasts that it displays more specimens of roundworms, hookworms, flukes, nematodes and leeches than any other place on earth—not to mention gruesomely graphic images and descriptions of the havoc they can wreak on humans and other hosts. For sure, no one could possibly leave the museum complaining that there were too few of these creepy objects on show. The formaldehyde-filled glass jars of the often impressively large and malevolent-looking critters put the work of Damien Hirst to shame. Among the must-sees: a dog’s heart with more holes than a wedge of Swiss cheese (thanks to a bad attack of heartworms); a tortoise’s head with leech-ravaged eyelids; and an 8.8-m-long tapeworm extracted from a man who chose the wrong trout to eat raw. Even more weird, all of this is displayed with nonjudgmental cheeriness. The museum even has a gift shop filled with gaily colored, branded souvenirs certain to dumbfound or disgust the folks back home. Our favorite: a T shirt adorned with a menagerie of cartoon parasites and the slogan wonderful world of the worm.”

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

S-21 was a secret prison operated by the Pol Pot regime in the capital city of Phnom Penh from mid-1975 through the end of 1978. Individuals accused of treason, along with their families, were brought to S-21 where they were photographed upon arrival. They were tortured until they confessed to whatever crime their captors charged them with, and then executed. The prisoners’ photographs and completed confessions formed dossiers that were submitted to Khmer Rouge authorities, so that proof of the elimination of “traitors” was established. Of the 14,200 people imprisoned at S-21, which held between 1,000 and 1,500 at any one time, only 7 are know to have survived. After Phnom Penh was liberated by the Vietnamese Army in 1979, S-21 was transformed into The Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide.

Alf also has a travelogue of the horrifying museum: “All of these are from the torture chamber run by Pol Pot in Cambodia. It was formerly a high school. I first visited it in 1991 and have a large number of photographs of the place that are no longer on public view. When we went there the place was still mined and we needed an armed guard. We were on our way to North Korea at the time. I will post some of the North Korean photos later….”

Vasa Museum

Vasa Museum (Stockholm, Sweden)

On August 10, 1628, the Swedish warship The Vasa sank on its maiden voyage, killing 30-50 of the 150 sailors on board. The ship sank to its resting spot in the mud at the bottom of the Baltic Sea where it remained until it was discovered in 1956. The ship was miraculously intact, having been preserved by the mud and cold water, and was raised in 1961. (Archaeologists found the skeletons of 25 sailors during the salvage operation.) And you can see the Vasa today, in all its majestic glory, at the Vasa Museum. Paul gives it rave reviews: “If you’re ever in Stockholm, you MUST stop in at the Vasa Museum! After the ship sank, it lodged in the mud at the bottom of the harbor… and the mud somehow preserved it for hundreds of years. It’s been dug up now, and it is simply breathtaking. I don’t really know how to describe it, or why it’s so awesome, but it might very well be the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”