12 of the U.S.A.'s Most Unusual & Interesting Museums
Millions of people -- at least 865 million, according to
the American Association of Museums (AAM) -- visit the nation's
museums each year, and with good reason; they're home to some
of the most treasured artifacts, historical tributes and links
to the past, all nicely displayed for the world to see.
The Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York
In the United States, there are a lot of museums. No one
knows for sure how many, but the most recent estimate by the
AAM puts the number right around 17,500. There are museums
for just about everything, from children to maritime activities
to railways, and here we've highlighted just the very tip
of the iceberg with 12 of the most unique U.S. museums you
1. The Adirondack Museum
Blue Mountain Lake, New York
The museum is set on 6 million acres of Adirondack Park,
overlooking Blue Mountain Lake, and exhibits focus on telling
the social and geographical history of the region's people,
culture and recreation since the 1800s.
It has 20 buildings on 32 acres of grounds and gardens where
you can learn about the Adirondack people, logging, mining,
boating and outdoor recreation and even the famous Adirondack
rustic furniture and architecture. You can also visit the
Adirondack Museum Library, which ahs more printed material
about the Adirondacks than any other single location.
2. American Hop Museum
Located in the heart of the Yakima Valley's hop fields, the
American Hop Museum is the only one of its kind in the nation.
It chronicles the American hop industry from the New England
colonies to its expansion into California and the Pacific
Northwest, and includes historical equipment, photos and artifacts
that pay tribute to hops, the perennial vine that is still
an integral part of the brewing industry.
3. Kenneth G. Fiske Museum of Musical Instruments
Claremont Colleges, California
One of the most diverse collections of musical instruments
in the United States, this museum is home to over 1,400 American,
European and ethnic instruments from the 17th-20th centuries.
Selections from Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, the
South Pacific and Australia are also part of the collections,
and include keyboards, brass, woodwind, stringed, percussion,
mechanical and electronic instruments. Other highlights are
rare pieces from the violin and viol families, reed organs
and instruments from the Orient and Tibet.
The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum,
4. Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum
Visitors actually step on board a retired jackup drilling
rig to experience what it's like in a day of offshore drilling
and production. The museum has three floors of models and
interactive displays telling the story of offshore oil and
gas from seismic technology to exploration and productions.
There are scale models of production platforms, actual drill
bits and remotely operated vehicles, along with other exhibits
focused on the drilling industry.
5. Old Salem Museum and Gardens
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Old Salem is an authentic restoration and "living history"
of the Moravian community started in 1766. You can stroll
through a restored town with authentic buildings, gardens
and costumed interpreters, view the Tannenberg organ -- the
largest surviving pipe organ built by David Tannenberg --
or visit one of their four museums, each devoted to a unique
aspect of Moravian history and culture:
6. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)
SMoCA is Arizona's only museum devoted to global art, architecture
and design of today. The museum itself was designed by award-winning
architect Will Bruder and is a minimalist renovation of a
movie theater. The museum has five galleries showcasing some
permanent and some changing exhibits, along with an outdoor
The Salem Witch Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
7. Seashore Trolley Museum
This is the oldest and largest electric railway museum in
the world. The Seashore Trolley Museum contains over 250 transit
vehicles, mostly trolleys, from the United States, Canada
and abroad. Visitors can even take a trip along the Maine
countryside aboard a restored early-1900s electric streetcar.
Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, the museum was founded
in 1939 with one open trolley car, No. 31 from the Biddeford
& Saco Railroad Company, and has been expanding its collection
8. Salem Witch Museum
A Royal Kohl Tube, the ancient Egyptian equivalent
of a mascara tube, from the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
& Planetarium, San Jose, California.
The Salem Witch Museum brings you back to Salem 1692 for
a dramatic overview of the Witch Trials, including stage sets
with life-size figures, lighting and a narration.
9. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
Woodland Park, Colorado
The Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center houses dinosaurs,
marine reptiles, flying reptiles and fish of North America's
Late Cretaceous period. They have the world's largest Daspletosaurus
on display, the world's only Pachycephalosaurus, and the world's
first 3-D giant Xiphactinus.
The exhibits also include lots of information on geologic
life, paleogeography, life of Colorado dinosaurs, including
eggs, babies and dinosaur parenting, extinctions, dinosaurs
in film and art and controversial theories.
10. Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium
San Jose, California
The museum is architecturally inspired by the Temple of Amon
at Karnak and holds the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts
on exhibit in the western United States -- including objects
from pre-dynastic times through Egypt's early Islamic era.
There are over 4,000 authentic ancient Egyptian artifacts
in the museum's collection, including four real mummies on
11. DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum
Fenwick Island, Delaware
The DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum has one of the largest collections
of shipwreck and recovered artifacts in the Mid-Atlantic.
It contains about 10,000 artifacts from local and worldwide
locations, including an intact blown-glass hourglass from
a 200-year-old shipwreck (the world's deepest wooden wreck)
at the heart of the Bermuda Triangle.
A 200-year-old hourglass recovered intact from a shipwreck
in the Bermuda Triangle, located at the DiscoverSea
Shipwreck Museum in Fenwick Island, Delaware.
12. Money Museum
Colorado Springs, Colorado
This is America's largest museum dedicated to numismatics
(the study of collecting coins and metals). Their collection
contains over 250,000 items from the earliest invention of
money to modern day, with items including paper money, coins,
tokens, medals, and traditional money from all over the world.
Highlights include the 1804 dollar, the 1913 V Nickel, the
1866 no motto series, a comprehensive collection of American
gold coins, and experimental pattern coins and paper money.
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Association of Museums
in the USA