Chances are, if you’ve traveled a bit, you’ve visited your fair share of museums. Art Museums, Natural History Museums, Wax Museums, or my personal favorite, Science Museums. Is it just me, or do the all start to look the same? The same dinosaur skeleton in the lobby, the same mummy in the basement, the same famous painters in the hallway.
For those of you who feel the same way, I have started making it a point to find some really off-beat and fun museums. Ones where you can do more than walk through a labyrinth of paintings and display cases on the wall. Here’s a list of some of them you should check out if you are ever in these areas.
Museum of the Moving Image – Astoria, NY
This is a fun little place outside of Queens. It’s a museum dedicated to all kinds of film, animation, and video games. And, like all my favorite museums, it is interactive! You can make a stop motion video, record a voiceover from famous movie scenes, change the soundtrack on some classic films and even play Mrs. Pac-Man on an original stand alone arcade console! There is also a part of the museum that hosts changing exhibits on certain filmmakers and animators (when I visited it was all about the creator of Looney Toons!) There’s a small entrance fee, but it provides hours of entertainment on a cold or rainy New York day. They even offer an internet center and a small café in the lobby.
Museum on the Mound – Edinburgh, Scotland
If you are coming from the central train station and likely visiting Edinburgh Castle, you will walk right past this fine establishment. It’s a small little building, but free to enter (as most museums in the UK are). The museum is all about the history of British currency, but you can see what a million pounds looks like, take your photo as the face of a tenner, and even practice cracking a safe to receive a little prize. It’s certainly worth an hour of your time on your way to Edinburgh’s bigger touristy sites.
Science Museums – Science museums are especially my favorite, as they are usually interactive and fun.
The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has, among other things, a three story indoor rainforest (Biodome, anyone?) They also turn the museum into a themed club one night each week (think Speakeasy or 70’s Disco). Highly worth a visit.
The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is also a fun stop. It features 3 large levels of interactive exhibits. They are mostly in Chinese, but there are a quite a few in English. It covers all aspects of science and technology, including meteorology, biology, genetics, robotics, and even natural history. They even feature a little ride, where you ride in a fruit shaped cart and enter through a large mouth, in the end you come out…. well, the other end. It’s all in Chinese, but you can get the gist of what is going on. It is quite funny to hear everything in a language you don’t understand a word of!
I’m also told that NEMO in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (where they have museum for everything) is a great science museum, but I have yet to make it there.
Another museum I have not yet made it to but intend to one day is the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. It’s supposed to be one of the best museums in the world (so a little more on the beaten path, I guess, but hey!)
Any great museums in your city? I’d love to hear about them!