10. Clowns Museum, Leipzig, Germany
Coulrophobics look away now. Thousands of perpetually smiling faces greet you as you enter this small clown museum in Leipzig. It is crammed with puppets, accessories, newspaper articles, posters, photos and over 3,000 figurines. Some of the exhibits, including giant clown shoes, makeup cases and other costume items, have been donated by clowns who visit the museum for special events.
11. Catacombe dei Cappuccini, Palermo, Sicily
A macabre display of the world’s largest collection of mummified bodies awaits inside the catacombs of Palermo. After Capuchin friars were found naturally mummified in the 16th century, living friars saw it as an “act of God” and chose to display them in a new crypt. Thousands joined them from the community over time, artificially mummified as a status symbol and displayed alongside. Visitors can explore five underground corridors of mummies, some arranged by profession, gender and social class.
12. Avantos Museum of Hair, Cappadocia, Turkey
There’s something weird about human hair when it’s not attached to a head, and this basement space is filled with the severed locks of more than 16,000 women. The story behind it is a little less creepy, however: the museum was created in 1979 by local potter Chez Gallip. A friend of his, saddened by having to move away, was given a lock of hair by a female friend to remember her by. Since then, women visiting from around the world have added to the collection (and donating now forms part of a competition to win a holiday in Cappadocia, including participating in Chez’s pottery workshops).
13. HR Giger Museum, Switzerland
In the 400-year-old walled city of Gruyères, at medieval Château St Germain, visitors can step inside the dark creative mind of Swiss artist HR Giger. In his mythological and futuristic style, there are paintings, sculptures, furniture, film designs and other exhibits, dating from the early 1960s to the present, some recognisable from films such as Alien, Dune and Poltergeist II. The adjacent bar, with spinal arches and seating, is also modelled on his sci-fi, biomechanical designs.
14. Froggyland, Split, Croatia
Slimy and green; cute (and secretly a prince); or a young wizard’s pet – frogs are a popular motif in films and fairytales connected to magic and mystery. In this museum, however, one man’s taxidermy mission around 100 years ago has turned into a sideshow of hundreds of the amphibious creatures frozen in time, in human poses at the circus, in a classroom, playing poker or tennis.
15. Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb and LA
Emotional collapse, long lonely nights, intense heartbreak … this Croatian museum dedicated to love and loss has a collection of mementos of past relationships that has grown so big it now has a second site in LA. Each item is accompanied by personal, anonymous stories from contributors, who can send items from around the world in physical or digital format. From belly button fluff to diamond rings, seemingly mundane objects, sentimental items, letters and photographs are annotated and become emotionally charged.