Every museum, by nature, has an agenda to push, but it’s not always easily swallowed by the public. These museums have — sometimes on purpose, more often not — amassed collections of some of the world’s most politically incorrect artifacts. Which for the unwitting visitor can prove anything from mildly unsettling to downright nauseating.
Museum curator David Pilgrim (Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP)
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia - Big Rapids, Michigan
Perhaps the most intentionally un-PC of all museums, the Jim Crow Museum at Michigan’s Ferris State University houses more than 9,000 offensive artifacts of anti-black memorabilia. Relics include cartoons, signs, and products dating from the Civil War to the present. Ku Klux Klan materials make up an important part of the collection, but so do items — such as mammy figurines and Sambo clocks — culled from the lives of everyday racists. “I collect this garbage because I believe, and know to be true, that forms of intolerance can be used to teach tolerance,” curator David Pilgrim has said.
Museum director prepares the daily guest book under a portrait of “Uncle Joe.” (Photo: Tim Makins/AP)
Stalin Museum - Gori, Georgia
The Georgian city of Gori is so steadfastly proud of its most famous son, atrocity-cultivating Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, that it built a museum that glorifies him as a great hero. True, a banner out front now explains that the Soviet-era propaganda museum is “a falsification of history … that attempts to legitimize the bloodiest regime in history” —but plans to truthify the museum’s glossy contents were recently squashed by Gori’s city council.
(Photo: NRA Museums/Facebook)
National Firearms Museum - Fairfax, Virginia
What could be more heartwarming than a visit to the NRA’s very own museum? Showcasing the development of the firearm, its vital role in American history, and the heroes (e.g., Davy Crockett and Teddy Roosevelt) who blasted their way to fame, Virginia’s National Firearms Museum also includes a “For the Fun of It” gallery of recreational guns that jarringly includes a case called “A Child’s Room.” FAQs on the museum’s website include such unique entries as “What’s my gun worth?”
The exterior of the Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum (Photo: Facebook)
Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum - Niagara Falls, Canada
Why waste your time with boring wax figures of Marilyn Monroe or Justin Bieber when you can yuck it up with likenesses of serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and Charles Manson at the Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum? Genocide lovers will be disappointed that Hitler’s likeness was stolen from this Canadian-border museum in 1999 but may find solace that child-killing clown John Wayne Gacy is now in his place. A true testament to bad taste and abominable behavior.
The Adam and Eve exhibit at the Creation Museum (Photo: Dean Beeler/Flickr)
The Creation Museum - Petersburg, Kentucky
Still not convinced about that guy Darwin? Then Kentucky's Creation Museum is for you. Sure to irk strict evolutionists, exhibits propose that the world began just over 6,000 years ago, and that dinosaurs (created by God on Day 6 with other land animals) not only coexisted with man (created later the same day), but were even among the passengers on Noah’s Ark.
(Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said that the Creation Museum had refused entry to the gay community, based on one incident. The Museum says the incident has been misrepresented, and that it welcomes homosexuals.)
Related: 7 Museums for 7 Days in Amsterdam
Hungarian cured meats (Photo: Getty Images)
Museum of the Hungarian Meat Industry - Budapest, Hungary
A veritable vegetarian’s horror palace, Budapest’s Museum of the Hungarian Meat Industry (presented by the equally unfortunately named Hungarian Meat Research Institute) is chock full of instruments and facts relating to the country’s long and proud history of slaughtering animals for human consumption. To wit: Who knew that until a thousand years ago, horse meat was second only to beef as a Hungarian favorite?
Archival photo from the National Border Patrol Museum (Photo: NBP Museum)
National Border Patrol Museum and Memorial Library - El Paso, Texas
Few issues are as divisive these days as immigration, but there’s little wondering which side of the fence this Texas museum — founded by retired border patrol officers — falls on the issue. While there’s not a lot of blatant furriner-bashing, neither is there much substantive information about the issues at hand. Rather, the focus is on the wacky methods use by wily American border crossers and the benevolent watch-folk who tirelessly capture them and send them back on their merry way home again.
(Photo: Michal Osmenda/Flickr)
Bullfighting Museum - Ronda, Spain
For all of the pageantry and tradition of bullfighting, there’s just no getting around the fact that it mostly ends with a dead bull that likely didn’t expect to be dead when the day started. As the bullfighting capital of the world, Spain is full of museums — mostly attached to bullrings — extolling the barbaric institution. Ronda’s museum is no more offensive than the others, but it’s located in the city considered to be the home of modern bullfighting and displays its fair share of bull-bloodied toreador gear.
(Photo: Museum of the Fur Trade/Facebook)
Museum of the Fur Trade - Chadron, Nebraska
If you can get past the prickly back-story elements — millions of animals hunted for their skins to make fancy European hats, natives pitted against each other and ultimately cheated off their land — this Nebraska museum does a nice job of showcasing the fur trade. Fur was an important part of early Americana, and there’s even an Heirloom Indian Garden showing how crops might still be grown here, had we just let things be.
Vietnamese boy examines a display showing U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers at the Vietnam War Remnants Museum. (Photo: AP)
War Remnants Museum - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Considering how much wartime suffering the U.S. caused in Vietnam, it may be surprising that this museum dedicated to the war’s American phase isn’t more damning. With that said, it was opened by the Communist victors in 1975 with the catchy name “Exhibition House for U.S. and Puppet Crimes.” But before you get too excited about the first display and its large pull-quote from the Declaration of Independence, check out what’s cynically next to it: a photo of an American G.I. executing a Viet Cong soldier. Expect more of the same inside — though not quite on par propaganda-wise with North Korea’s Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, which is one of the most notoriously Uncle Sam-bashing museums on earth.