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Boston's Weirdest Museums

In a city filled with history and museums, it is no surprise that there are some very weird museums hidden among the gems. However, weird or not, they are all pretty cool and certainly present some learning opportunities for visitors interested in their various niches. At the very least, they are not boring. If you like museums and getting out of the hustle and bustle of the more popular tourist attractions, these are the way to do it.
Warren Anatomical Museum
(Photo from Harvard)

Warren Anatomical Museum
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
10 Shattuck St.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 432-6196

The Warren Anatomical Museum is named after Dr. John Collins Warren, who provided the core collection in 1847. It included the anatomical preservations that he used to teach and study anatomy. The museum's current collection includes an ether inhaler, the skull of Phineas Gage, whose head injuries and survival were famous, numerous skeletons and preserved bits of people, both normal and deformed. This is not a museum for the faint of heart, but is a must-see for students of medicine and lovers of the macabre.

The Ether Dome
Ether Dome painting paying tribute to its namesake. (Photo from MGH)

The Ether Dome
55 Fruit St.
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 726-2000

While not entirely a museum but rather an interesting exhibit in a hospital, the Ether Dome is certainly a weird display. It is an amphitheater where doctors conducted surgeries during the 19th century, but is most famous for being the location of the first surgery conducted using ether in front of an audience. What makes the site strange is a painting of suited men hovering around a man with blood pouring from an incision in his neck, an out-of-place Egyptian mummy and historic surgery tools that can send shivers up the spine.

Ernest Hemingway Collection
Ernest Hemingway Collection (Photo from JFK Library)

Ernest Hemingway Collection
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
220 William T Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
(617) 514-1600

There is very little weird about Ernest Hemingway's belongings kept at the J.F.K Library. What is weird is the story of how they got there, which is covered by the museum. Hemingway's wife had to get special permission from the president to travel to Cuba after her husband's death and then get permission from Castro to let her take her husband's things out of the country. Moreover, she was given offers from various museums for the collection. Despite her husband having never met J.F.K. and having nothing to do with Boston, she sent his things there, where they stand out among exhibits that actually have remote connections to the president and the city.

Related: Offebeat Museums in Massachusetts

Boston Athenæum
(Photo from Boston Athenæum)

Boston Athenæum
10 1/2 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 227-0270

The Boston Athenæum itself is only as weird as any library, which is pretty darn weird considering the things visitors read in books. However, what really makes this particular library and museum strange is a piece that belongs in a horror film. This is the James Allen book of skin. The skin on this biography belonged to its subject -- a death row prisoner. His dying wish was this book bound in his own flesh.

Museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts
(Photo from Museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts)

Museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts
4th Floor Faneuil Hall
1 Faneuil Hall Square
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 227-1638

The Museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts is a great place for lovers of military memorabilia. Visitors will find weapons, regalia, uniforms and more. This is not very weird, but it is weird that the museum is hidden at the top of Faneuil Hall in one of the busiest places in Boston. Guests of the hall usually miss the final staircase to the museum and miss the museum, but it is there and is not as busy as the rest of the building if you are looking to sneak away from the crowd.

Related: Museums Even a Guy Would Like

Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at


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