Specola Museum

Museo La Specola (Florence, Italy)

Suggested by John: “The Specola museum in Florence, Italy is a most fascinating museum. It is a natural history museum and is laid out starting with insects and mollusks, then birds, fish, mammals (all stuffed, sometimes very weirdly) and ending with the most stunning wax anatomical models of humans and their parts. There is a book published by Taschen called: Encyclopaedia Anatomica. If you ever find yourself in Florence, I strongly advise you go there. It’s near the Pitti Palace.”

Medieval Crime Museum

Medieval Crime Museum (Rothenburg, Germany)

TandoMando highly recommends this site: “If anyone gets to the medieval walled town of Rotenburg ob der Tauber, in the Rhine valley, I highly recommend the museum of torture and death! It’s located at the far end of the entrance to the city. They have all the standard medieval torture devices like iron maidens, stretching racks, large metal hoods worn for various transgressions, for all manner of punishment meted out way back in the day. Some were positively bizarre, including one that was basically a table to which the victim was tied, and had a spike that went in the anus, forced into the body so far it resulted in death.” Sounds like my cup o’ tea!

Musée Fragonard

Musée Fragonard (Paris, France)

Honoré Fragonard (1732 – 1799) was an expert in the art of anatomic preparations. His elaborately posed preparations were the forefathers of Gunther von Hagens’ “Body Worlds”. At the Musée Fragonard, you can see all of his surviving work including some creepy looking “Human Fetuses Dancing a Jig”. I am mesmerized.

The Louvre

The Louvre (Paris, France)

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know what you’re thinking. “What’s so morbid about an art museum?” Well, besides the fact that you can tour the underground moats from the days when the palace was a medieval fortress, art can be pretty damned morbid. And the Louvre houses some great ones like the must-see The Raft of the Medusa as well as a huge assortment of deathbed images and mutilated Jesus’. (Special thanks to Merrie for the suggestion.)

National Museum of Ireland

National Museum of Ireland (Dublin, Ireland)

Lauren recommends the natural history museum for the creepiness factor: “Ireland is a pretty creepy place in general. Everyplace you go there has some freaky historical fact behind it. I think that that the Museum of Natural history in Dublin was pretty creepy. All of the animals are on display in old fashion Victorian style. They all have a waxy appearance and I swear they were watching me! I enclosed some pictures of the exhibits there.”

Scary Monkey Case


Whitby Museum

Whitby Museum (Whitby, England)

The most popular attraction at this museum in the historic town of Whitby is a glory hand – the severed hand of a criminal. “There is one Hand of Glory which is stored at the Whitby Museum in North Yorkshire. It was found in an attic in a house in Eskdale. The hand was a greyish color. This color was the result of a preservation technique which involved the draining of the blood of the hand of a hanged criminal which had been cut off, and afterward using saltpeter and Lapland sesame to preserve it. The blood and fat the of the hanged man was then utilized to make a candle which would then be placed between the fingers of the Hand of Glory.” – House Shadow Drake
Is it any wonder that it’s the most popular item on display? Thanks to Amelia for the suggestion.

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum (London, England)

Matt sends the following recommendation: “The Chamber of Horrors is fab. There are waxworks of people being tortured etc. with lots of informative notes to accompany the figures. Did you know the Garrotte was the method used for Death Sentences in Spain? Gruesome. I thought the Garrotte simply strangled the victim but no, it’s got a spike in the front which slowly penetrates the victim’s windpipe, then their spinal cord. Only then do they choke. Oh, and it was last used in Spain in 1974! Anyway, there’s a really fun bit which only lasts about 3 minutes but you walk through a dungeon/asylum which is dimly lit and the lunatics (actors, not waxworks) creep up on you. It’s quite spooky, it makes you jump a lot, but god, what a laugh!”

Our morbid cohort Alf also went to the museum and took some pics:
Alf’s Madame Tussaud Page

The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon (London, England)

Sara writes to rave about The London Dungeon: “If you’re ever in London, England, the ‘London Dungeon’ is an absolutely amazing museum portraying the former brutality and astounding history of England and surrounding area. As soon as you enter you’re greeted with a group of talented actors that escort you into the building, then you proceed through the museum where there are tons of incredible exhibits of murders, tortures, and pretty much everything else macabre that has happened in this country’s past. Then you go into London’s famous prison system from the past centuries (including a trial, where you are charged and sentenced to death). Once you enter the prison, there you are shown real survivng torture intruments and structures. After that you are taken on mini boat ride and are shown more ways to perform an execution, The London Towers infamous ‘Traitors Gate’, and so on and so forth. Then the best part of the tour, the recreation of Whitechapel in the 1880’s where Jack The Ripper played. London’s claim to fame. You walk along dirty streets and beside you are the bodies of the prostitutes he killed strewn about. Then you go through a speculation to who Jack The Ripper really was. Then you witness the hanging of the man, from underneath the gallows. It looked and sounded so real, I thought I actually heard a neck snapping. And then comes the grand finally of the tour. ‘Theatre Of The Guillotine’, where you are a witness to a public execution. When the blade comes down a warm liquid is sprayed lightly over the crowd. When you start the exit, you’re hostly proudly proclaims to you, “Don’t worry, what you were sprayed with was not blood, it was urine.” The air even changes when you go into different parts of the tour, just for effectiveness. For example when you enter the prison, the air changes to a damp, stank, very cold air. The little details are what makes this museum so great. I highly recommend this museum as one of the top in the world.”

Clink Prison Museum

Clink Prison Museum (London, England)

The Clink Prison Museum is built on the foundations of one of the original prisons owned by the Bishop of Winchester. It is thought it got its name from the clinking of the manacles, fetters, chains and bolts that were used there. It was also the origin of the phrase “In the Clink”, to mean in prison. Arranged into a series of cells, it has such exhibits as a whipping post, torture chair, foot crusher, and other torture implements. Some of the items can be tried on; for instance there is a scolds bridal, and ball and chains are around the museum in various places. There are lots of pictures and articles around the rooms, and waxworks of the types of people that would have been held there. Alf visited and took some pictures.