Looking for some distraction during quarantine?
Want to shift the plot of your nightmares away from masks and hand sanitizer and back into the familiar world of taxidermied animals and locks of hair? You are not alone. Fortunately, museums—those gigantic musty houses full of ancient art and glass cases—are stepping forward, offering their awful attractions for our perusal.
A recent viral Twitter thread is exposing some of the spookiest objects of all. Yorkshire Museum, agent of chaos, posted a call asking for curators to share the worst things in their collection with everyone, and things… escalated.
MUSEUMS ASSEMBLE! It's time for #CURATORBATTLE! 💥 Today's theme, chosen by you, is #CreepiestObject! We're kickin… https://t.co/L1op49NRip— Yorkshire Museum (@Yorkshire Museum) 1587114431
SMT Collections kindly offered a pigeon's heart stuck full of pins, which is apparently a charm that was once used to exorcise a witch.
@profdanhicks @YorkshireMuseum @Pitt_Rivers Nice. We have a pigeon heart stuck with pins for punishing a witch...… https://t.co/j8g1QhvxE1— SMG Collections Team (@SMG Collections Team) 1587134540
Hieronymous Bosch couldn't have dreamt up the York Castle Museum's horrible Victorian dioramas, which feature people who have...claws instead of heads.
@YorkshireMuseum STEP ASIDE ALL. These are hand-made models of figures playing cards and of gold miners hauling go… https://t.co/z7NlkpsFnF— York Castle Museum (@York Castle Museum) 1587114622
Naturally, there were plenty of dead objects preserved in jars.
@YorkshireMuseum Does "something in a jar" strike your fancy? #CreepiestObject https://t.co/grVWP5hRLw— Nova Scotia Museum (@Nova Scotia Museum) 1587120502
Apparently, this weird painting of a "thunder beast" fell down on the city of Hiroshima during a storm, according to Japan's Mononoke Museum.
@YorkshireMuseum How about this? This is a drawing a thunder beast(Raiju) that has fallen to Itsukaichi, Hiroshima… https://t.co/o0LKSkvHE6— 三次もののけミュージアム (@三次もののけミュージアム) 1587778988
These horrifying kids' costumes from the Red Lake Heritage Center will feed your nightmares for decades.
@YorkshireMuseum As the only staff member at Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre (Ontario, Canada) with a Twitter, al… https://t.co/3rb6hsehVw— Jenna Locke (@Jenna Locke) 1587417325
There are a lot of genuinely creepy museums around the world, and in some ways, none of these objects should be particularly surprising if you've ever explored the dread depths of an actual museum.
Museums around the world are sharing their #CreepiestObject and we had to get in on the fun. We submit this photo f… https://t.co/lGWA1fhCul— WI Maritime Museum (@WI Maritime Museum) 1587664767
For example, the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft houses a collection of necropants—AKA pants made from human skin, AKA ancient Icelandic good-luck charms.
I need to visit The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft forthwith! #FolkloreThursday https://t.co/3sHUxXUZD0 https://t.co/lT2zTpW2BV— andy at the cofa tree 🌳 (@andy at the cofa tree 🌳) 1459414236
There are several cockroach museums across the U.S. and Canada, featuring roaches dressed up as famous people like Elvis and Santa Claus.
If anyone is single or going through a breakup right before V-Day... the science museum of western VA wants to help… https://t.co/QAZHDeKIth— Cynthia Beasley (@Cynthia Beasley) 1550012430
Wisconsin has its own clown hall of fame and California and New Orleans have their Museums of Death, which are full of serial killer artwork, Manson family possessions, and the like. Every nation seems to have its own torture museum. New York City's Morbid Anatomy museum was a gem during its heyday, and it's certainly not the only spooky museum of its kind.
The Morbid Anatomy Museum may have closed its doors for the last time, but its exhibits will not soon be forgotten https://t.co/nx7WwMynIN— National Geographic (@National Geographic) 1484526604
If paranormal spooks are more your style, you have plenty of options as well. The Vent Haven Museum in Kentucky has its own collection of ventriloquist dummies, Roswell, New Mexico has a collection of UFO-related objects, and West Virginia has a museum dedicated exclusively to the Mothman, its legendary cryptid. No museum is more rife with cursed objects than Ed and Lorraine Warren's Museum of the Occult in Monroe, Connecticut, which features a number of altars, shrunken heads, and the infamously cursed Annabel doll, among others.
Decided to join the Patreon for the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult!! So glad @nuekerk @Weird_Dana… https://t.co/WIVpRTUy0X— Wren💀 (@Wren💀) 1584799160
These are only a few of the many, many terrifying museums that fill the world, just waiting to be explored the moment we can all go outside again.
Why are museums (and museum curators) so damn eerie? Perhaps the problem is not with museums, but with life itself. Life is just plain creepy, bizarre, and surreal—perhaps that's what makes its beauty so vivid.
Of course, beauty is subjective, ugliness is often constructed out of fear—often of a manufactured "other" (which is really a fear of our internal subconscious minds).
Many people, therefore, might find these objects immensely beautiful, if only in their uniqueness. If you're one of those folks, sweet dreams. The rest of us will be up all night, though perhaps for once not because of pandemic-related anxieties.