America's weird museums
Really Weird Science
International UFO Museum & Research Center
The International UFO Museum & Research Center was founded by participants in the infamous Roswell Incident. The exhibits include a "Roswell Incident Timeline", a worldwide sightings map, "Ancient Cultures and their Connections to Extraterrestrial Life Forms", astronomy, and a children's area. The museum endeavors to present facts and be taken seriously. Alas this mission is undermined by the circus atmosphere that pervades Roswell, and it's hard to take anything seriously when confronted by an alien version of Rodin's Thinker called "Me Thinks Me Thinking" . . . which may be better off in another musuem already discussed.
Willow Creek-China Flat Museum
Willow Creek, Calif.
If you're scared of the dark, or watched too many episodes of In Search Of as a child, you may want to stay clear of the forests near Willow Creek. Willow Creek found cryptozoology fame in the 1950s when logger Jerry Crew ambled into town with a plaster cast of a great big foot. All told, the large hairy "manimal" has been sighted more than 120 times in the region since the 1930s.
It is no surprise then, that the local historical museum, the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum, is guarded by a 25-foot redwood sculpture of Bigfoot and has a wing dedicated to the creature. It displays bigfoot evidence, footprint casts, a collection of Bigfoot-related pop-culture artifacts, and a growing archive of Bigfoot information that may become a research center.
There is an annual bigfoot celebration Labor Day weekend. Activities have included a Bigfoot parade, Bigfoot ice cream social, and the Firemen's Bigfoot Barbecue.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology
Culver City, Calif.
"No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again"
The Museum of Jurassic Technology is subtle and delightfully brain-bending. David Wilson's eclectic and bizarre exhibits include the life and works of Jesuit scholar Athanaseus Kircher (proprietor of one of first public museums), microminiature art, the Proustean model of memory, the folkloric role of bees in an larger exhibit of folk traditions and "vulgar cures," and floral radiographs. Two especially interesting exhibits are academic diaromas of trailer parks and the somewhat gruesome natural history of the African stink ant.
You'll probably walk out of the place shaking your head and wondering if all of it—any of it—is true. Is it an homage to the history of public museums? A clever parody? In the end, does it really matter?