World's 10 most quirky museums

ABBA THE MUSEUM, STOCKHOLM

Music museums are common, but few focus on a single pop group and none have the same panache – and glitter – as this one. Exhibits are devoted to ABBA memorabilia, gold records and outrageous stage costumes. Visitors can plunge into interactive displays that have them jamming on stage with a hologram ABBA, boogying on a flashing dance floor, or flying the helicopter featured on an ABBA record cover. See abbathemuseum.com

INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM, WASHINGTON DC

Take a fascinating look at the tradecraft and inventive tools of espionage in high and low places, from George Washington's day to the era of computer hacking. Kids will enjoy the interactivity, which allows them to don disguises, break codes and try covert surveillance. There's also an amusing look at spies in pop culture and movies, with dozens of artefacts from James Bond films. See spymuseum.org

UNDERWATER MUSEUM OF ART, CANCUN

If you feel the need to enliven your art appreciation with a bit of snorkelling or scuba diving, then plunge into the Caribbean waters off this Mexican beach resort, where 500 life-size sculptures of everything from cars to human figures adorn the seabed. The sculptures act as an artificial reef, and as coral grows are constantly transforming. Unconcerned turtles sometimes go flapping past. See musamexico.org

CAT CABINET, AMSTERDAM

What do you do if you're both a wealthy businessman and cat lover? Open a museum inside a beautiful canal-side house devoted to the role of cats in society and art through the centuries. Paintings, drawings, posters, sculptures and photographs depicting cats are presented with humour, yet form a fine-art collection that includes works by Rembrandt, Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. Five real cats live in the building. See kattenkabinet.nl

PINBALL MUSEUM, BUDAPEST

SunSept22Ten - Ten Quirky Museums - Brian Johnston
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Entrance to the Pinball Museum in Budapest (credit Pinball Museum)

Pinball Museum in Budapest. Photo: Supplied

Admire the precursors of pinball machines from the 1870s, the 1940s machines that introduced flippers to keep the ball in play, and 1970s models with early digital displays. You can play on all 130-odd machines in this hands-on collection, many of which have themes from Godzilla to horror movies. The museum also features Pac-Man, the arcade game that took the world by storm in the 1980s. See flippermuzeum.hu

TRICK EYE MUSEUM, PHUKET

Stimulate your imagination and deceive your senses at this art museum with a difference, where you can not only admire three-dimensional paintings but become a part of them thanks to trompe l'oeil techniques. It's a great place for kids, who will relish the photo opportunities that capture them inside a bank safe, encountering zombies on a subway train, or running with the bulls in Spain. See phukettrickeyemuseum.com

MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, ZAGREB

This crowd-sourced museum tells the stories of failed love affairs and marriages through donated objects with attached explanations. It might be a garden gnome thrown in a fit of anger at a boyfriend's car, a teddy bear that has lost its charm, a sleeping bag or an axe. The museum's voyeurism, and the glimpses it gives into the lives of others, is curiously compelling. See brokenships.com

CUP NOODLES MUSEUM, YOKOHAMA

There's a surprising amount of enjoyment in this space devoted to instant dried noodles. Learn about the history of the infamous snack and the challenges of creating noodles for astronauts, admire whimsical artworks made from noodles, and send the kids off to a playground modelled on a noodle factory. Entertaining hands-on workshops allow you to design your own cup noodles by mixing and matching flavourings. See cupnoodles-museum.jp

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MUSEUM OF THE WEIRD, AUSTIN

SunSept22Ten - Ten Quirky Museums - Brian Johnston
Image supplied via journalist for use in Traveller
Museum of the Weird in Austin (credit Museum of the Weird)

Museum of the Weird in Austin. Photo: Supplied

This Texas museum is for those intrigued by stories of aliens, ghosts, yetis and the Loch Ness Monster. The prize exhibit is the Minnesota Iceman – a hairy beast frozen in ice that became a sensation in 1960s America – but there are interesting exhibits on old-time circus sideshows and imaginary creatures such as mermaids. Museum guides sometimes swallow swords and stick their fingers in bear traps. See museumoftheweird.com

SULABH INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF TOILETS, DELHI

This is a small museum, but what's not to like about journeying through the development of sanitation and hygiene systems over four millennia? A gold-plated Roman toilet, prettily painted chamber pots and commodes used by colonial hunters are among the exhibits. There's a wealth of information (and even a few poems) on topics such as historical toilet etiquette and public sewerage systems. See sulabhtoiletmuseum.org

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