10 Great Museums to Visit at Hallowe’en

October 26, 2015

Czech Republic, England, France, Iceland, Italy, USA

Hallowe’en is just around the corner, and I have to admit, I am a big fan! Previously, I shared a piece here on the blog about the Scottish/Irish cultural background of Hallowe’en (if you think it’s all about devil worship, I recommend you read it and be convinced of the contrary), but this year I decided to do something a little fun instead. I had a look around the world to see which spookily themed museums would be a perfect fit for museums lovers to visit at Hallowe’en, and in this post I am sharing my ten favourite finds with you. I haven’t visited any of these myself yet, but they have now all definitely been bookmarked on my ‘must visit’ list! So, in alphabetical order of country, here they are:

Czech Republic: Museum of Ghosts & Fairy Tales, Plzeň

Muzeum Strašidel – or the Museum of Ghosts & Fairy Tales – is located on the former site of a 16th century guest house in the town of Plzeň, and promises you a “delightfully terrifying experience”. In a city full of folk and fairy tales, ghosts, and other mysterious creatures, immerse yourself in a magic world including witches, water sprites, dragons, devils, fire-dogs and a mythical prince, amongst other things.

England: The Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle, Cornwall

According to their website, The Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall houses the “world’s largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts and regalia”.  It was founded in 1951, and has been at its current location in Boscastle since 1960. The museum’s collection covers everything from spells and charms, curses, protection magic and divination, to tools of the witch, herbs and healing, sacred sites, and persecution. Whether you like nature, art, a good story or unusual things, there are also a number of themed leaflets to guide you through the museum.

The Museum of Witchcraft Cornwall England

Photo courtesy of The Museum of Witchcraft

France: Musée des Vampires

The Musée des Vampires & Monstres de l’Imaginaire, is a small private museum devoted to vampires and other imaginary monsters. From books, posters and paintings, to fine art objects and a mummified cat, here you will apparently find every type of vampire-related item you can imagine! Visits are by appointment only, and in this blog post on Cool Stuff in Paris (note: the museum is apparently not actually in Paris itself) the author gives a very good account of his visit there.

[Edit: The Facebook page for this museum has been taken offline, and I can’t find any other recent references to it online, so I’m not sure this museum stills exits – Oct. 2017]

Iceland: Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft, Hólmavík

Anyone who has visited Iceland, will know that the country has a very close connection with its ever present fairy folk. But did you know that Iceland also has a rich history of sorcery and witchcraft? At Strandagaldur: Galdrasýning á Ströndum – the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft – self proclaimed ‘home of the necropants’, you can learn all about it. Wait. What? Necropants?! Yup. They’re a pair of pants (or trousers, for the British English speakers among us), made from human skin! Apparently, the exhibit at the museum is just a replica, but the thought along is terrifying. The museum’s website even includes guidelines on how to make your own!

Photo courtesy of Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft, Photographer: Sigurður Atlason

Photo courtesy of Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft, Photographer: Sigurður Atlason

Italy: Museo dei Tarocchi, Riola, Italy.

As mentioned in my previous post about the cultural background of Hallowe’en, this was historically a popular time for divination and trying to foresee the future. What better museum to visit then, than the Museo Dei Tarocchi – Museum of Tarot – in Italy. The museum equally highlights both the history of tarot cards, which were originally used as playing cards from the 15th century on, as well as the artistry of tarot decks. In cooperation with a publishing house, the museum also publishes collections of Artist’s Tarots. The museum’s proprietors, Morena and Ernesto, will accompany you on your visit, and kindly request that you make a reservation in advance.

Photo courtesy of Museo dei Tarocchi

Photo courtesy of Museo dei Tarocchi

USA: Castle Halloween Museum, Altoona, PA

If you want to immerse yourself in the world of Hallowe’en, look no further than the Castle Halloween Museum in Pennsylvania, with its over 35,000 Hallowe’en related artefacts – the “largest collection of Halloween memorabilia, Halloween research, antique Halloween art, postcards, and collectibles on the planet”! Seriously, the collection is so vast, I wouldn’t even know where to begin listing everything you can see there. Curator and creator of the museum, Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell – a.k.a. ‘The Halloween Queen®’ – has been a collector of Vintage Halloween and Collectible Halloween pieces for almost 50 years. Admission is by guided tour and appointment only.

Photo courtesy of Castle Halloween Museun

Photo courtesy of Castle Halloween Museun

USA: Merchant’s House Museum, New York City, NY

Merchant’s House Museum in New York City, dating back to the 19th century, has been recognised as a National Historic Landmark. According to the museum’s website, the house was among the first buildings designated in 1965 under the City’s new landmarks law, and the only historic house museum in the Greenwich Village/Soho/NoHo neighbourhoods. It is also apparently the most haunted house in Manhattan, with “strange and inexplicable happenings” – including sounds, smells and sighting – having been reported by staff and visitors since the 1930s. From January to June and in the weeks leading up to Hallowe’em, visitors can take part in candle lit ghost tours, and during October the museum offers other additional “spirited” events, such as “Chant Macabre: Songs from the Crypt” and a 1865 Funeral Reenactment.

USA: Salem Witch Museum, Salem, MA

When you think about witches, the Salem Witch Trials often spring to mind, so obviously the Salem Witch Museum had to find a place in this list. Dedicated to the trials of 1692, which ultimately resulted in the death of nineteen men and women, the museum examines “one of the most enduring and emotional events in American History” through life size figures and stage sets, with accompanying narration based on trial documents, which let visitors experience the drama of that time as if they were there. Elsewhere, visitors can learn evolving perceptions and interpretations of witches, from the terrifying witch hunts of the past, to modern witchcraft practice today.

Photo courtesy of Salem Witch MUseum

Photo courtesy of Salem Witch Museum

USA: The Warren’s Occult Museum, Monroe, CT

Okay, I admit, this museum creeped me out a little, but I had to include at least one creepy entry to this Hallowe’en list, right? According to their website, The Warren’s Occult Museum is the oldest and only museum of its kind, housing a large array if obscure and haunted artefacts such as masks, tomb stones, Satanic altars, crucifixes, and a variety of cursed items. And dolls. Lots of dolls. Don’t visit this museum if you have a phobia of dolls! One of their star objects is the Annabelle doll, who is allegedly responsible for terrorising a family, slashing a grown man, and causing the death of another. Despite being exorcised several times, Annabelle appears to still a little bit possessed, so this is one museum where you definitely don’t want to ignore the ‘do not touch’ signs!

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