New Jersey has an abundance of incredible museums. The Newark Museum is a personal favorite, and I’m a big fan of the Garden State Discovery (Children’s) Museum in Cherry Hill. I can’t imagine a kid NOT loving it there. We have amazing art museums like the Noyes Museum Of Art in Oceanville, and great historic house museums like Ringwood Manor, but we also have some very strange museums. Ranging from the weirdest of weird to just a little quirky, these are some of the most unique museums in New Jersey.
1. Laurence Hutton Death Mask Collection, Princeton
This creepy collection of death masks is housed in the Princeton University Library and is one of the largest in the world. The entire collection has been photographed and is available for viewing online. You can also head to the library to see the collection up close, but only with strict supervision and advance permission.
What makes it weird? Three dimensional casts captured to preserve the faces of the dead including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin and Walt Whitman. Weirdness Level? 4/5 - This place is REALLY weird, but loses a full point for not being an actual museum.
2. Morris Museum, Morristown
This fantastic museum has a little bit of everything - art, history, minerals, a model railroad and more.
What makes it weird? The museum is home to one of the largest collections of mechanical musical instruments and automata in the world. A few of the older pieces can be a bit creepy, but they're very cool. Weirdness Level? 2.5/5 - Something about vintage self-operating machinery reminds me of old horror movies... like that wind-up jewelry box that starts playing on its own.
3. Paranormal Museum, Asbury Park
This small museum is free to visit and is housed in the Paranormal Books & Curiosities Shop. Exhibits explore New Jersey myths and legends.
What makes it weird? Everything, but that's the fun. Weirdness Level? 5/5 - The possessed doll and haunted artifacts get this museum top marks.
4. USGA Museum, Far Hills
The museum of the United States Golf Association, you'll learn about the history of golf and get to practice your putting with replica vintage clubs.
What makes it weird? You'll find unique artifacts here including a six-iron that astronaut Alan B. Shepard used on the moon. Weirdness Level? 2/5 - It's more unique than weird.
5. AJ Meerwald, Port Norris
Part of the Bayshore Discovery Project, guests get to enjoy this 115-foot oyster schooner first hand while learning about the natural, historic and cultural resources of the Delaware Estuary. An interactive learning experience, visitors get to assist the crew with various tasks.
What makes it weird? Where else can you dredge for oysters, sample plankton and take water quality tests? Weirdness Level? 1.5/5 - Weirdly awesome.
6. Snowmobile Barn Museum, Fredon
Browse through over 400 vintage and modern snowmobiles along with classic motorcycles and other memorabilia. This museum is one-of-a-kind.
What makes it weird? It's a massive collection of snowmobiles housed in a barn. Weirdness Level? 3.5/5 - People come from all over the world to enjoy this unique collection. Admission is just $7 for adults.
7. Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum, Atlantic City
This quirky museum celebrates all things strange and obscure. Best of all, it's right by the beach. Enjoy the "odditorium" where you can find the world's smallest production car and a table made entirely of jelly beans!
What makes it weird? Do you see the mermaid? Things haven't even begun to get weird yet. You'll find a two-headed cow, rabbit with wings and a Marilyn Monroe portrait made of snakeskin. Weirdness Level? 5/5 - May I refer you back to the above photo?
8. Stone Museum, Monroe
This museum offers an eclectic mix of attractions including a dinosaur egg from China, fluorescent mineral room, hundreds of rocks (mostly from New Jersey) and Dino, a 20-foot dinosaur made from recycled materials (pictured).
What makes it weird? I don't want to give away the secret, but you'll see some strange sights here. Weirdness Level? 3/5 - Interesting masonry exhibits and interactive fossil displays make this museum a must-visit.
9. DooWop Experience, Wildwood
Enjoy unique artifacts from the DooWop era along with a collection of vintage neon signs.
What makes it weird? It's not weird per se, but it's very unique. Learn about pop culture in the 50s and 60s along with the history of Wildwood. Weirdness Level? 3/5 - It's quirky and kitschy, perfect for a summer day trip.
10. InfoAge Science History Learning Center & Museum, Wall
This museum on a military base offers exhibits centered around radios, computers, other electronics and warfare technology.
What makes it so weird? It's a unique concept offering up info on an often overlooked part of history. What makes it weird? Visitors can enjoy short films in the authentic fallout shelter theater. There is also a special section devoted to shipwrecks. Weirdness Level? 3.5/5 - Learn how the Titanic disaster had a major impact on New Jersey or check out the National Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
11. Northlandz, Flemington
You'll find over 8 miles of track in this model railroad museum, along with a collection of antique dolls and a 94 room dollhouse.
What makes it weird? Besides being the world's largest model railroad, there's also a 2,000-pipe organ. Weirdness Level? 3/5 - Some may see this museum as strange, but it's probably just cool if you grew up playing with trains.
12. Insectropolis, Toms River
View and learn about exotic insects from all over the world. Enjoy interactive games, touch a tarantula and more.
What makes it weird? It's a bug museum. Weirdness Level? 4.5/5 - Observe a beehive or view a live ant's nest at this quirky kid favorite museum. Adults love it, too.
What other weird museums do you know of in New Jersey? Is there a secret, strange exhibit or curious collection you know about? Share with me, and let me know which of the museums in this article sounds most interesting to you.