People are always on the lookout for different ways to be scared. Some people enjoy horror movies, haunted houses or other traditional forms of scaring themselves and their friends. But if you’re looking for something a little more cultured and want to learn a little something while you wet your pants from fear, check out some of these museums from around the world that are sure to give you goose bumps.
Seodaemun Prison History Museum, Seoul, Korea
Located in Seodaemun Independence Park, this prison-turned-museum is a must-see on a visit to Seoul. It was built around 1910 and was used by the occupying Japanese to imprison and torture Korean nationals. Some of the original buildings are open to the public so you can see the tiny cells where dozens of men were held, the “corpse removal exit” where the bodies of prisoners were smuggled out, and the execution building. Perhaps the most gruesome part of the museum is the “Place of Experience” where you can see life-like animatronic mannequins undergoing some of the common tortures used by the Japanese.
Upon entering the building, you will be greeted by a soundtrack of screams and moans. When going down to the basement, you will see displays of tortures like having sticks of bamboo shoved under fingernails or prisoners being hung upside down and having hot water laced with chilli peppers poured into their nostrils. You can then go upstairs and take part in some interactive displays where you can sit in the chair of a person being sentenced to death, then stand in the spot they would be hanged from.
If you’re the first one in your group to do it, you’ll get quite a surprise when the floorboards jolt and you think they’re falling from under you.
Museum of Medieval Torture Instrument, Prague, Czech Republic
This museum celebrates Europe’s history of gruesome torture of witches, heretics and state enemies. From burning them at the stake to impaling them, this museum has it all. Over sixty exhibits will dazzle you with their cruelty and gruesomeness.
All of the pieces have illustrations to show how they were used and explanations in several languages. You can see the rack, Spanish boots, chastity belts, iron maiden and other famous torture methods, plus some you may never have heard of, and might wish you hadn’t.
Voodoo Museum, New Orleans, USA
Located in the historic French quarter and owned by a New Orleans native with a love of history and all things voodoo-related, this museum will not only tell you about voodoo, but give you a chance to experience it first-hand. They offer tours that guide you through the historic voodoo sights of New Orleans including graveyards, the tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, haunted houses, a Catholic Church that houses a voodoo saint and much more.
They even offer the popular “Tour of the Undead” on which you can see an authentic voodoo temple and experience voodoo rituals.
Glore Psychiatric Museum
Who wouldn’t want to check out a museum dedicated to the history of such wonderful things as electroshock treatment and lobotomies? Well – most people probably. But for those who have a taste for the downright shocking, the Glore Psychiatric museum is for you. Dioramas span the history of treatment for mental illness — witch burnings and devil stompings; the “Bath of Surprise,” a gallows-like platform that dumped a patient into icy water; and a working model of O’Halloran’s Swing, in which strapped-in patients spun at up to 100 RPMs.
If you find the horrifying parts of the museum too much to cope with however, you can relax in the “awful things people have swallowed” exhibition.
Also don’t forget to check out the ancient treatments area where you can see instruments for bleeding patients and the fascinating dioramas taking you step by step through a psychosurgical operation. Soounds like a fun day to me!
New Haven Ventriloquist Museum
In New Haven connecticut there is a museum that contains nothing but row upon row of old ventriloquist’s dummies. Every seat in the theatre has a dummy in it – in fact, when you visit you have to stand on the stage because there is no room anywhere else.
Now most people don’t suffer from autonomatonophobia (the fear of ventriliquist dummies– yes it’s real) but even the bravest of the brave will be slightly horrified by this creepy display. Just think “Chuckie” times one thousand.
Catacombs of Palermo
Not originally intended to be a museum, yet that is exactly what the Catacombs of Palermo have become – a museum of death. Deep in the bowels of the Capuchin monastery you can view hundreds of corpses – both monks and local members of the community. The bodies are lined up along the walls in the clothes in which they were buried.
Bodies were put in the catacombs from the end of the 16th century to the last interment – little Rosalia Lombardo in the 1920s.
The cool air and dry environment mean that the bodies are extremely well preserved – so well preserved in fact that some look like they are just sleeping. But most look like hideous corpses ready to wake up at any moment to attack the visitors.
Lombroso’s Museum of Criminal Anthropology
Cesare Lombroso founded the Italian school of criminology. It is no wonder then that this museum – filled with objects from his work is a terrifying place indeed. Combined with the macabre collectibles are images of crimes, weapons used to slaughter humans, and even Lombroso’s own head perfectly preserved in a bottle of formaldehyde.
If you are interested in crime – or just want to spend a day gazing at skulls, human remains, and other horrifying objects, this is the place to go.
Museum of Anatomy
Honore Fragonard was a professor of anatomy – at least he was until he got canned for showing the symptoms of insanity! Twenty years later he began the work that would be his life’s crowning achievement. In 1794 he began gathering dead bodies for what would become his museum of anatomy.
His museum was designed to house a gigantic collection of corpses that he personally stripped of their skin and embalmed with a secret recipe – a recipe that remains a mystery to this day. The collection contains the preserved flayed bodies of animals, children, and executed criminals as well as a collection of skulls from asylums for the mentally disturbed. This museum in Paris is so horrifying that entry is available by appointment only.
The Mutter Museum is best known for its large collection of skulls and anatomical specimens including a wax model of a woman with a human horn growing out of her forehead, the tallest skeleton on display in North America, a five-foot-long human colon that contained over forty pounds of poop, and the petrified body of the mysterious Soap Lady whose entire corpse was turned into soap after she died.
The museum also houses a malignant tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland’s hard palate, the conjoined liver from the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, and a growth removed from President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
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