When most people think “museum,” they think art, natural history, or history. There are certainly tons of traditional museums in Pennsylvania– almost too many good ones to choose from. Yet, sometimes it’s fun to explore a space dedicated to a strange, unfamiliar, or super-specialized topic. From Big Macs to zombies, here are some of the weirdest and coolest museums in Pennsylvania.
1. Big Mac Museum and Restaurant, North Huntingdon
Did you know that the Big Mac was invented in Western PA? We didn't either. Snack on America's favorite indulgence while basking in the glow of the world's biggest Big Mac.
2. Mütter Museum, Philadelphia
What you'll find inside the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia is disturbing to say the least. Skulls, preserved tumors, and deformities are only the beginning. Prepare yourself for this place... because you'll need to.
3. Harry Houdini Museum, Scranton
Houdini captured the world's imagination with his crazy stunts and magic tricks. The world's only museum dedicated solely to his life can be found in Scranton, where he performed several special tricks during his lifetime.
4. Trundle Manor, Swissvale
Trundle Manor, tucked away in a Pittsburgh suburb, is self-described as "a tourist trap based on the eternal need to show off the unusual." The local couple amassed such a large collection of Addams-Family-esque oddities and cultural artifacts that they decided to open their home for the public's amusement. If you want a better idea of what you'll find here, I suggest reading the Yelp reviews for their museum, all of which are raving.
5. Liberty Bell Museum, Allentown
Many people don't know that the Liberty Bell, which is normally housed in Philadelphia, was temporarily kept in the basement of St. Zion's United Church of Christ in downtown Allentown during the Revolutionary War in order to keep it safe from British troops. Today, the basement of the church is a dedicated shrine to the Liberty Bell and the significant role Allentown has played in its history.
6. Bicycle Heaven Museum, Pittsburgh
Biking is more and more prevalent on urban American streets these days as people seek eco-friendly and cheap ways to get around. The bicycle itself, though, has a rich history which you can explore in Bicycle Heaven. Serving as both a bike shop and a museum, it has seven rooms with a plethora of bikes on display, and a friendly staff to boot.
7. Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg
The collection at the Pennsylvania Military Museum covers two centuries of military history, with a variety of tanks, uniforms, rifles, automatic weapons, and more. They also regularly stage reenactments. This museum is a must for any veteran, history enthusiast, or military-minded individual.
8. Old Jail Museum, Jim Thorpe
This jail, which opened in the 1870s, offers a unique look into the lives of historic inmates as well as some spooky attractions, such as a handprint that cannot be washed away. The jail is also remembered for hanging seven men accused of being Molly Maguires, members of a secret Irish organization that disrupted the coal mining industry with terroristic activities.
9. Mercer Museum, Doylestown
Housed in a castle-like building, the Mercer collection is dedicated to documenting the every day lives of pre-Industrial Revolution Americans.
10. Living Dead Museum, Evans City
Evans City became famous when George Romero chose it as the setting for his 1968 zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead." Visitors can now browse artifacts from the movie's production as well as general zombie paraphernalia at the Living Dead Museum.
We can’t wait to go visit some of these distinctive exhibitions. What weird museums have you visited lately?