Geek Travel: Museum of the Weird
Recently my awesome sister got married in the city of Austin, Texas needless to say a busy weekend ensued. Between being involved in the usual family functions of a destination wedding, my fantastic, beautiful, brilliant wife was the Matron of Honor which meant I had to seize on any free time I could muster. This meant when I when the chance presented itself to check a place off of my Travel Bucket List I happily took advantage of it. On the city’s famed Sixth Street (or Dirty Sixth as the locals call it) lies a museum unlike any other with exhibits that are strange, unexplained, scary, or just plain peculiar, the Museum of the Weird. Housed in the back of the Lucky Lizard gift shop, this brainchild of artist Steve Busti, gives off the vibes of a vintage sideshow or a road side attraction from a bygone era. Once admission is paid, you go through the turnstile to explore the weirdness that lie beyond.
Divided into four sections of the unconventional and almost castle tower-like structure, the first part of the museum takes guests through a mish-mash of oddities. You will see artifacts from PT Barnum’s sideshows to plaster molds of Sasquatch prints and even horror movie props. In a single room you can see everything from a model of the Aurora Space Man, shrunken heads, one of the Gremlin puppets from Gremlins, and some of the “Cottingley Fairies”. One thing that caught my attention in particular, was a small box within an easily overlooked display case in a corner warning employees never to open it. Needless to say, I became slightly obsessed of what was in this little box. The second section of the museum contains the crown jewel of the Museum of the Weird collection, the Minnesota Ice Man. For many of us who grew up watching Robert Stack on Unsolved Mysteries this supposed Neanderthal encased in ice is no doubt familiar. For those unfamiliar, the show’s famous segment concerning the story behind this frosty remnant from the Ice Age plays on loop.
From there you climb the staircase which wraps around the museum’s central courtyard and see a room dedicated to the history of the carnival sideshow with hilarious and fascinating artifacts and vintage footage of some of the great acts from a bygone era. This gives visitors a chance to see authentic film from legends like small but charismatic Tom Thumb and the tragic Elephant Man. To top it all off. literally and figuratively, you climb to the very top of the Museum of the Weird to take in a wax museum depicting many of the great monsters of classic horror cinema. Beginning with the Silent Age with Count Orlock of Nosferatu, guests walk will see depictions of the Universal Monsters, Lon Chaney Sr.’s horrific creations, Vincent Price from House of Wax, Christopher Lee as Frankenstein’s creation, and a Mutant from This Island Earth. The centerpiece of this exhibit is of course the massive sculpture of King Kong ready for visitors to get their picture with for social media bragging rights.
The Museum of the Weird is a place I have been anxious to visit for quite a while now and there is always the risk that it does not live up to expectations. But let us be real, this is a place dedicated to the paranormal, the unexplainable, horror movies, and overall oddities, there was no chance this place was going to underwhelm me. This is a museum dedicated so many things that I passionately love so I knew I was going to get my $12 worth. To top it all off the presentation of their exhibits is to be applauded, as it takes guests through winding halls, rickety stairs, tucked away corners, as well as both nooks and crannies to see all there is to see. If you ever find yourself in Austin, Texas, I highly recommend making your way to the Museum of the Weird and perhaps following it up with a trip to one of the 2,962 cool bars in the neighborhood.