Weird Museums: Travel off the Beaten Path

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 21, 2014 | Go to article overview

Weird Museums: Travel off the Beaten Path


Byline: Donna Gordon Blankinship Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Travelers looking for something beyond top attractions like the Space Needle in Seattle might consider adding a weird museum or two to their itineraries.

Here are some suggestions from among dozens of unusual museums across the nation, from a funeral museum to an attraction devoted to wet wipes, of all things. They're all worth a stop, but probably shouldn't be your only reason for buying a plane ticket.

Moist Towelette Museum, East Lansing, Michigan

This free attraction next to the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University contains one of the odder collections open to the public. On two big bookcases in John French's office are more than a thousand, mostly unused, wet wipes from around the world.

The "celebrity wing" of the collection includes a used wipe donated by "Car Talk" hosts Ray and the late Tom Magliozzi. French, who is also the planetarium's production coordinator, says the collection includes wipes from a sumo wrestling event in Japan and from the former Trump's Castle in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Why moist towelettes? "I think everybody just has an urge to collect something," French said. The collection's oldest item is a box of "Wash Up!" towelettes from 1963. Details: moisttowelettemuseum.com/.

Dialysis Museum at Northwest Kidney Centers, Seattle

Seattle has many unusual if obscure attractions -- like the gum wall at the Pike Place Market. Here's another one that's a bit more educational: a dialysis museum.

The Northwest Kidney Centers opened the free museum two years ago to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a pioneering medical treatment center. People who find old medical devices intriguing and those whose lives have been touched by kidney disease are most likely to seek out this display.

The museum shows the history of dialysis through machines and photographs including some early hospital models from the 1940s, and home and travel machines from the 1960s. Some machines were one-of-a-kind devices created with spare parts, including a "traveling kidney" in a suitcase. Details: nwkidney.org.

National Cryptologic Museum, Nsa Headquarters, Annapolis Junction, Maryland

The National Cryptologic Museum, about 25 miles north of Washington, D.C., offers a glimpse into the history of American spying, from code books used during the Revolutionary War to signal flags from the Civil War and decoding machines from World War II. …

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