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Failures and cannibals: seven museums off the beaten track

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Failures and cannibals: seven museums off the beaten track
A group of nurses in front of the psychiatric hospital in Säter, which is now the Museum of Mental Health. Photo: Archive picture, Mentalvårdsmuseet i Säter
06:59 CEST+02:00
Autumn is near and as it gets colder and colder, nobody really wants to spend a lot of time outside. But after some time, all the conventional museums might get boring. Here's our pick of some more... unusual ones.

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1. The Museum of Failure

What were they thinking? That's the motto of Samuel West's Museum of Failure in Helsingborg. Inspired by the Museum of Broken Hearts in Zagreb, Croatia, it displays a collection of international failed products and services: from a Harley Davidson perfume to a Donald Trump board game. On the museum's website, the founder states: "I was so tired of reading and hearing the same boring success stories. It's in the failures we find the interesting stories that we can learn from." The museum in Helsingborg has also sparked pop-up stores all around the world, in Canada, the USA and exhibitions in Germany and China are planned.

Where it is: Kungsgatan 11, Helsingborg

Opening hours are found here


In between the fails: Dr Samuel West with some of his exhibition pieces. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

2. Museum of Disgusting Food

Speaking of Dr West. His interest in the peculiar is not just limited to failed products. He also finds amusement in weird and disgusting foods from all around the world. That's why he plans to open the Museum of Disgusting Foods in Malmö. On display will be all sorts of culinary creations – a Chinese bull penis, fruit bat soup, Icelandic rotten shark… the list goes on. There will also be a corner for smelling some of the most pungent food in the world – Swedish fermented herring surströmming is just one of those. The museum is set to open on October 31st this year.

Where it will be: Slagthuset MMX, Malmö


A definite yuck factor: A bull's penis on display. Photo: Photo: Anja Barta Thelin

3. Thermos Museum

Thermoses – they are practical, they can make you look like a fool and they've been around for a while. A German, namely Reinhold Burger, invented the Thermos bottle in 1903. Over the decades, the different bottles have been keeping beverages hot (or cold, for that matter). A few years ago, the Swedish association Dellenkultur decided to open up a museum for the bottles in Delsbo. Displayed are thermoses that are 100 years old, but the museum also contains a collection of thermoses from all over the world.

Where to find it: Tinghuset Delsbo, Stationsgatan 7, 82060 Delsbo


Practical and definitely historical: Some old thermoses. Photo: Staffan Löwstedt/SvD/TT

4. Arnold's Cannibal Museum

Yes, you read correctly. And no, this is not a meeting space for cannibals (hopefully). It's a museum about relics. Adventurer Arnold Wernersson has taken an interest in the history behind cannibalism since his youth and has spent his life visiting over 150 countries and collecting these unusual souvenirs.

Wernersson transformed what has been a hen house on his farm in Skåne into a cabinet of curiosities. This includes cult items, weapons used by cannibals and a shrunken human head. These relics come from all around the world and are often from unknown tribes that practise (mostly ritual) cannibalism. Additional to this creepy collection, Wernersson is also known for telling wild stories from his travels.

Where to find it: Önneköp, Hörby

Opening hours: The museum opens for special tours only, so booking in advance is required.


Arnold Wernersson, the owner of the Cannibal museum, with a shrunken human head from his collection. Photo: Private

5. Museum of Mental Health

In the process of learning how to properly treat people with mental illnesses, a psychiatric hospital was built in Säter, central Sweden, in the first half of the 20th century. Today there is a museum in one of the old buildings, showing the history of psychiatric treatment  – from the good (for example how the spot in Säter was chosen for its beautiful surrounding nature to make the patients more comfortable) to the dark spots in the history of treatment (such as lobotomies). The museum also features personal stories of some patients and – very notably – a gallery with art that has been drawn by patients of the hospital.

Where to find it: Länsvägen 16, Säter

Opening hours: The museum is only open during pre-booked tours, the phone number is found here.


An inside view of one of the museum's exhibition rooms. Photo: Lars Andersson Schaar/Mentalvårdsmuseet

6. Birgit Nilsson Museum

This is a must-go for all fans of the 20th-century opera singer Birgit Nilsson. The farm where she grew up has been in the family since the 18th century and has been transformed into a museum devoted to the singer. It offers a range of activities, with guided tours through the family home, audio guides, media rooms and a cinema, in which Nilsson's career is depicted. It says on the website that everything in the farmhouse was left as it has been before Nilsson left home at the age of 23. All of this creates a unique atmosphere to help the fans get a bit of the opera singer's life on a farm without running water or electricity.

Where to find it: Birgit Nilssons väg 27, Båstad

Opening hours: Closed for the season, but will reopen in May 2019


Nilsson's piano – a still from the museum. Photo: Evelyn Thomasson

7. 007 Museum

James Bond has fans all around the globe, but Gunnar Schäfer (who changed his name to James Bond) has taken this fandom to a new level. Over the years he has collected and bought gigantic amounts of Bond-memorabilia, travelled around the world to the filming locations and met various actors and actresses from he franchise. This resulted in what he proudly claims is "the only 007-museum in the world". On display are, among other things, Bond girls' dresses, the hovercraft from Die another Day and tons of original James Bond merchandise, which can also be looked at during guided tours. A cinema at the museum shows the Bond movies and the owner also organizes themed parties.

Where to find it: Emmabodavägen 20, Nybro

Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 10-16 | Sat: 10-13 | Sun: closed


James Bond Gunnar Schäfer (left) with a hovercraft, driven by Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day (2002). Photo: Private

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