This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: January 23, 2003

Weird, wacky and on the Web

Museums can be vibrant, living parts of a community; they also can serve as halls of discovery, learning and inspiration. But there also are museums that got their start because of someone's collecting obsession, and others that showcase the bizarre, creepy and outlandish—many of these have found a home on the Internet and some featured unusual links can be found at Unusual Museums and Strange Collections (

One featured link, "The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets" (, is both an actual museum (located in New Delhi, India) and a virtual one. The site consists of facts, pictures and objects detailing the historic evolution of toilets from 2,500 BC to date. While the site's subject matter may appear to be crude, the museum's objectives are noble and are best expressed in a quote found on the site's opening page: "Though the challenges to provide toilet facilities have been overcome in rich countries, it has still to be met in developing countries."

The Toaster Museum ( is a virtual museum only, but the folks at the Toaster Museum Foundation have located a physical location for their museum in Charlottesville, Va., and are working hard to renovate the building so it can be open to the public as soon as possible. The main purpose of the museum is to provide historical information about toasters, so facts about toasters abound on the site, as do chronologies and technical information on how toasters work. A "FAQ" section provides answers—and in many cases links—to questions dealing with the dating, repairing and purchasing of old toasters. The site does not provide toaster appraisal services, but instead suggest eBay and the site's own "Toasters Forums" ( for prices of antique and collectible toasters.

A good metasite for offbeat museums is Unusual Museums of the Internet (;action=list); here one can find the Museum of Dirt (, a collection of dirt samples from world famous landmarks and celebrity homes or gravesites. The metasite also will lead you to the British Lawnmower Museum (, the National Lighter Museum (, the World Famous Asphalt Museum (, the Museum of Hoaxes (, and many other strange museums.

There also are several great Web sites for those interested in locating the more traditional museums of art, history, science and technology. Two very good ones are Musée ( and the Virtual Library Museums ( Both sites serve as a guide to museums worldwide, and allow alphabetical and geographical browsing of museums.

—Don Hartman and Cindi Tysick, University Libraries