50 Historic Facts About Museums & Its Artifacts

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1Whale Taxidermy

There is a full taxidermied whale in a Swedish museum that was open to the public until a couple was caught having sex inside it.


2. When Nazis invaded Greece, the staff of the Archaeological Museum in Athens buried all statues and artifacts in concrete fortified trenches stretching from the basement. The Nazis found an empty museum. No one gave away the secret.


3. In 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was robbed of 13 paintings worth a total of $500 million. None of them have been found, and the museum is still offering a $10 million reward (the largest reward by a museum in history).


4. In 1819, when King Francis visited the Pompeii exhibition with his wife and daughter, he was so embarrassed by the erotic artwork that he had it locked away in a “secret cabinet”, a gallery within the museum accessible only to “people of mature age and respected morals.” It was reopened and closed a lot of times throughout history and was finally re-opened for viewing in 2000. Minors are still allowed entry into the Secret Museum in Naples only in the presence of a guardian or with written permission.


5. The British Museum used to have a special room called “The Secretum” where “obscene” works were stored. The driver behind it was said to be The Obscene Publications act of 1857 but items were locked up before this. Though most of the artifacts were made public in the 1960s, a few items remain under key in the Cupboard 55 and 54 in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities.


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6Newseum

Newseum was an interactive museum and a neighbor to the Smithsonian. It closed down in 2019 due to a lack of funding. It stood for the freedom of journalism, and some of the items it displayed included artifacts from WW2 Germany, Unabomber’s cabin, and the antenna on top of the World Trade Center.


7. The Confederate Truce Flag is now housed at the National Museum of American History. It was preserved by General George Armstrong Custer, who was present at the surrender of Robert E. Lee.


8. An enormous Buddhist relic known as the Buddha's Begging Bowl, weighing 350 to 400 kg is kept in the Kabul museum. When the Taliban captured Kabul, they destroyed all other Buddhist relics except the bowl, since at some point Quranic verses were inscribed on it.


9. New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) is the largest art museum in the US and fifth in the world at 633,100 sq. ft. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia is the largest in the world at nearly twice its size at 1,100,000 sq. ft.


10. There is a Disgusting Food Museum in Berlin which displays disgusting dishes from all around the world. They even have a tasting bar for visitors to try some of them.


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11National Civil Rights Museum

The motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated is now the National Civil Rights Museum.


12. To prevent a rodent infestation, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia owns around 70 cats. The cats spend their days mostly in the basement and are taken care of by the museum staff. The museum has a small kitchen and a pet clinic dedicated to the well-being of the cats.


13. The Imperial War Museum has an exhibit that lets you listen to the moment guns fell silent after the World War 1 armistice went into effect. They used seismic data to recreate the effect.


14. Chicago’s Field Museum has 10 colonies of flesh-eating beetles, who live and work at the museum cleaning animal bones for display.


15. In 2016, a 155-year-old mousetrap kept on display in the Reading Museum in Berkshire caught a mouse.


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16Grand Canyon Museum

The Grand Canyon Museum had three buckets of radioactive uranium ore on display for 18 years and only found out when a kid was goofing around with a Geiger counter.


17. National Museum of American History considers “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “The X-Files” and “Star Trek” important parts of American culture, and has related props in the collection.


18. After a fire destroyed Brazil's National Museum in 2018, university museum studies students began collecting visitors’ photos of the irreplaceable artifacts that were lost so that they could recreate the museum's collection virtually.


19. James Smithson sent $500,000 (1.5% of the federal budget) to the USA in the 19th Century to fund an institution “for the creation and diffusion of knowledge.” Though James Smithson never visited the USA, the Smithsonian today is the world’s largest museum complex; all of which is free of charge and open to the public.


20. There’s a Pirate and Treasure Museum in St. Augustine, Florida that displays not only one of two authentic Jolly Roger flags known to exist but also the only known treasure chest that actually belonged to a pirate.


21Moon Museum

The Moon Museum is a less than 0.5 square inch tile that is left on the Moon and contains drawings by six prominent artists, including a penis drawn by Andy Warhol.


22. There is a museum in Austin, Minnesota dedicated to Spam, and it tells the history of Hormel company, the origins of the canned product, and its place in world culture. The Spam Museum is free of charge, and the volunteer guides, known as Spambassadors offer visitors tours and free samples to savor.


23. The Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska is the first museum in the world dedicated to hammers, and it boasts 1400 hammers and related tools ranging from ancient times to the industrial era. Its mission is to educate the general public about the history and use of hammers.


24. The Creation Evidence Museum is a museum in Texas dedicated to the display of evidence related to creationism. One of their main exhibits is found on the second-floor balcony of the museum and features prominently a 12 feet high statue of Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry.


25. There is a Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia. You can go and leave personal objects left by former lovers, accompanied by brief descriptions.

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