Bizarre Museums
RV Hall of Fame and Museum
Thousands of museums in the United States document important events and valuable objects. But if it’s the funny and offbeat you’re after, hightail it to the Plumbing Museum, the Pencil Sharpener Museum and these other offbeat and somewhat off-kilter places.
Recreational vehicles weren’t always the gas-guzzling behemoths we see barreling down the road today. At the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., you’ll see tiny towable trailers and marvelous motorhomes dating back to the 1920s and ’30s, including Mae West’s 1931 Chevrolet Housecar and a 1915 Model T roadster equipped with a telescoping apartment.

Washboards and Pencil Sharpeners
Already home to unusual museums such as the Wyandot Popcorn Museum and the National Construction Equipment Museum, Ohio is about to get two more. In May, the Columbus Washboard Co., the country’s only washboard manufacturing company, opens the Columbus Washboard Company Museum, and the Hocking Hills Welcome Center becomes the new home of the Pencil Sharpener Museum.

Museum of Jurassic Technology
Dimly lit — for effect, not to save cash — and filled with offbeat natural-history relics, man-made curiosities, cock-eyed collections and scientific exhibits that may or may not be real, the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, Calif., tests your truth meter and tickles your fancy. Exhibits include rotting dice, a shrine to Soviet space program dogs and this pincushion possibly collected by a resident of a Los Angeles-area mobile home park.

Museum of Bad Art
Established to celebrate “the labor of artists whose work would be displayed and appreciated in no other forum,” the three galleries operated by the Museum of Bad Art in the Boston area celebrate paintings that have “gone horribly awry in either concept or execution.” Rescued from trash heaps, yard sales, thrift stores and attics, the collection now includes more than 600 works of art, all of them bad — but in a good way.

Leila's Hair Museum
Whether it’s a good hair day or a bad one, Leila Cohoon is happy to weave stories about the history of hair and take visitors through Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence, Mo. The carefully coiffed collection includes locks snipped from the manes of celebrities, 400 framed Victorian hair wreaths and more than 2,000 pieces of antique brooches, bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry made entirely with, or containing, human hair.

Barbed Wire Museum
Open from May through September, the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum in LaCrosse, Kan., celebrates the spiky invention that allowed cattle ranchers to tame the Wild West with a cheap and effective way to restrain animals. Along with a crow’s nest built entirely of barbed wire, the museum displays at least 2,000 varieties of the metal wiring also known as “the devil’s rope.”

The Plumbing Museum
Located, appropriately enough, in Watertown, Mass., the Plumbing Museum’s collection snakes back to the 18th century and includes antique sinks, toilets, water closets and bathtubs as well as historic tools of the trade. If you’re curious about water mains, overflows and septic tanks, this museum devoted to piping technology through the ages will help flush out the answers.

Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
If the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History could talk, it would definitely slur its words. Tracing American whiskey history back to the 1700s, this Bardstown, Ky., museum displays liquor memorabilia ranging from moonshine stills and antique bottles to Abraham Lincoln’s liquor license and the hatchet used by temperance crusader Carrie Nation.

Cockroach Hall of Fame and Museum
When he’s not out removing unwanted critters from private homes, pest-control expert Michael Bohdan is tending to his Cockroach Hall of Fame and Museum in Plano, Texas. The museum features live insects, such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and more than two dozen costumed and preserved cockroaches including the bejeweled, piano-playing Liberoachi and the sexy Marilyn Monroach.

Giant Shoe Museum
Compact and coin-operated, the Giant Shoe Museum displays about 20 giant shoes dating from the 1890s to the 1950s. A feature of Old Seattle Paperworks in the Pike Place Market in Seattle, the oversized footwear includes The Colossus, a 5-foot-long black leather wingtip from the 1920s, and a shoe worn by Robert Wadlow, once the world’s tallest man.

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
The Zombie Room, voodoo dolls and the small, red gris-gris bags used for carrying charms to invoke and attract voodoo spirits are among the mysteries explored at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum in the city’s French Quarter. If you’re brave, join one of the museum’s Voodoo-Cemetery Walking Tours, which stop at the tomb of the famous voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, whose portrait is inside the museum.

Vacuum Cleaner Museum
They suck — and that’s why several dozen antique, vintage and just plain wacky suction-producing cleaning devices are displayed at the Vacuum Museum inside Stark’s Vacuums in Portland, Ore. Some of the most unusual models offered time-saving conveniences. Our favorites: vacuum cleaners that double as hair dryers, neck vibrators, lamps or footstools, for those quick clean-ups in the den.

National Museum of Crime and Punishment
With artifacts that include a gallery of famous firearms, and interactive experiences that include a CSI-style forensics lab and a mock police lineup, the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. explores the criminal mind, notorious crimes and the ways that punishment has been meted out since the Middle Ages. For a bit of comic relief, visitors can study America’s Dumbest Criminals.

Santa Claus Museum
No need to wait until Christmas to visit Santa Claus. Year-round the town of Santa Claus, Ind., is home to a Santa Claus statue, the Santa Claus post office, Christmas-themed stores and attractions and the Santa Claus Museum, which is filled with artifacts and memorabilia relating to Santa Claus the place and Santa Claus the person.