Discover a New Whimsical, Wild, or Weird Museum!
The Carolinas are replete with a variety of popular museums that showcase art, history, culture and other fascinating subjects. However, you may not be aware of the many lesser-known, weird museums worth a visit. Here are five you might want to add to your list of road trip destinations.
Weird Museums Found in the Carolinas
Ripley’s Odditorium, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Appropriately named, this weird museum is 12,250-square-foot and showcases over 200 bizarre human and animal oddities, artifacts and exhibits. The Odditorium is part of the larger “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” series of attractions.
There’s a spinning vortex tunnel, a shrunken head, a replica of a six-legged cow, ceremonial masks and scale models of the world’s shortest and tallest people. An interesting historical item is an authentic vampire killing kit from the 1800s. It contains a pistol, silver bullets, holy water and a wooden stake, among other items. Don’t miss Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress she wore during her “Happy Birthday” serenade to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Ripley’s acquired it in 2016 at a cost of almost $5 million!
Kazoobie Kazoos, Beautfort, S.C.
One of the world’s largest kazoo collections is located in the Kazoo Museum, part of Kazoobie Kazoo Factory Tour Experience. Kazoobie is America’s only maker of plastic kazoos, and produces almost one million each year.
Visitors can learn about the history of the kazoo, which is still somewhat of a mystery, in this weird museum. However, Kazoobie supports the theory that it was co-invented by a freed African slave, Alabama Vest, and German immigrant clock maker Thaddeus Von Klegg in 1850s Georgia. Museum guests can enjoy kazoo recordings, artifacts and memorabilia. Experience a guided factory tour and make your own kazoo to keep. Peruse the gift shop for a variety of whimsically named Kazoobie kazoos — the Wazoo, the KaZobo and the Kazoogle — as well as other interesting musical instruments. The museum is closed on weekends, and from Dec. 24, 2018 through Jan. 1, 2019.
Korner’s Folly, Kernersville, N.C.
Built in 1880, this elegant 6,000-square-foot home of decorator, painter and furniture designer Jule Gilmer Korner has been labeled as the “strangest home in America.” The fact that it’s believed to be haunted is only one reason. Even before you enter the home, you’ll discover unusual details like the eight different sized bricks that were used in the house’s construction. In addition, a witch’s pot rests on porch tiles that are laid to look like a rug and inscribed with the words “Witches Corner.”
Visitors can explore 22 rooms of original furnishings, many fireplaces, artwork and elaborate hand laid tile. The house’s uniqueness is rooted in its whimsical design elements, such as ceilings that range in height from 5-foot-6-inches to 25-feet tall, big and small windows, and doorways — of which no two are alike. The house also showcases ornate ceiling and wall murals. Be sure to see the elegant reception room that was used for entertaining. Other interesting rooms include the library, children’s rooms and master bedroom, which features furniture designed by Jule Korner.
A special part of Korner’s Folly is its Cupid’s Park Theater, located on the top level, believed to be America’s first private little theater. The holiday season is an especially beautiful and popular time to visit as the house is dressed in Victorian Christmas décor. They also host several special events, including a monthly puppet show.
American Museum of the House Cat, Sylva, N.C.
Established by cat lover and retired biology professor Harold Sims, this weird museum is one of only two cat museums in the country. Sims, known as the “Catman,” is devoted to the welfare of these felines — and opened the museum last year, not only to celebrate all things cat, but to help support the no-kill shelter he runs.
Sims has amassed a large collection of cat themed objects, including a mummified cat dating back to ancient Egypt, varied artwork, antique toys including automatons from the 1890s and vintage advertising from magazines, movie posters and metal and cardboard signs. The museum also houses hand-made carousel cats, one of which came from France in 1910. You can even bring your own (leashed) cat with you when you visit!
Country Doctor Museum, Bailey, N.C.
This educational museum was established in 1967 by a small group of local women including local doctor, Dr. Josephine E. Newell. The museum pays tribute to the legacy of physicians who faithfully served rural communities. The museum consists of three buildings and a medicinal herb garden, including the Freeman-Brantley Building with its two relocated country doctors’ offices.
What was originally Dr. Howard Franklin Freeman’s office has been converted to a 19th century apothecary. The other two rooms include furnishings ranging from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. Among the items for viewing are surgical sets, microscopes, blood-letting devices and dental and medical kits. The museum’s newest exhibit, “The Sick Room: Home Comfort and Bedside Necessities,” showcases how loved ones were taken care of at home during the early turn of the 20th century.
Another interesting part of the museum is the Carriage House. It features an old buggy, a surrey and two Model T’s that physicians used to reach their sick patients, as well as a history of nursing and examples of nursing uniforms.
Add one (or all!) of these weird museums to your road trip wish list. Visit AAA.com/TripTik to plan your route!
(Photos: Ripley Entertainment, Inc.; RomanticAsheville.com)
(Go Magazine Nov/Dec 2018)