Created | Updated Jan 20, 2012
Museums are large, generally crumbly, old buildings holding strange collections of weird old stuff for the benefit of the public. Museums are an odd mix of educational facility, academic centre of excellence, place of entertainment and tourist attraction. They collect a whole range of stuff; the unique; the priceless; the rare, to the sort of things that normal people would throw out. They care for, and protect all this stuff, sometimes allowing the precious artefacts out onto display for the public to gaze upon and admire. And then they store them away again - old newspapers, bits of broken pottery, empty bottles, socks and teapots and typewriters - all carefully packed and protected, in monitored environments.
Museums, particularly in the UK, are viewed by many as stuffy places full of dinosaurs, stuffed animals and bits of art. And to a large extent, this is the case. But what makes museums so fascinating, is the variety and scale of these bizarre collections. They are full of things which are well removed from the everyday and the ordinary. Good museums allow your imagination to become involved with the objects they display; you get caught up in the story behind the object; its unique history.
Museums are also places well-suited to the obsessive personality. There is an element of the obsessive in anyone who collects, be it beanie babies; decorated thimbles; rocks found on holidays; or antique undergarments. Many museums are based on the collections of these mildly obsessed and eccentric folk. And they are visited by people who share the same fascination.
So, before spending another weekend wondering how to spend your day, consider spending a few hours at the one of these:
Dog Collar Museum, Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade Museum of Fire, Edinburgh, Scotland
Barometer World Museum, Great Torrington, Devon, England
Cornice Museum of Ornamental Plasterwork, Peebles, Borders, Scotland
Fakenham Museum of Gas, Fakenham, Norfolk, England
Keith Harding's World of Mechanical Music, Northleach, Gloucestershire, England
Museum of Net Manufacture, Bridport, Dorset, England
National Museum of Baking, Taunton, Somerset, England
Sir John Soane's Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, England
The British Lawnmower Museum, Southport, Lancashire, England