19 Weird and offbeat things to see at the Smithsonian

smithsonianweirdThe Smithsonian museums in Washington DC boast a wide array of exhibits and artifacts. Most people don’t know about some of the odd and offbeat things they can find at the Smithsonian.

The exhibits do change regularly, like most museums. So be sure to check first if you offbeat artifact is on display or in storage.

Here is a list of my 19 weird and offbeat things to see at the Smithsonian:

  1.  Giant Squid – There is something ethereal and altogether creepy about looking at a  preserved body. Looking at a squid encased in glass is even more creepy.
  2.  Mahammad Ali’s Boxing Gloves – while not the first thing that came to mind when thinking of offbeat exhibits, I caught a glimpse of darker red on the top of the gloves. Blood perhaps?
  3.  Abraham Lincoln’s Life Mask – There’s a myth that a death mask was taken of Lincoln after his assassination. He had actually had two life mask’s taken 5 years apart. Take a moment and gaze into his eyes.
  4.  David Vetter’s Space Suit – This one was in storage when we visited. David Vetter was known as “the boy in the bubble.” He suffered from a condition that severely weakened his immune system. The suit was developed by NASA as a way for him to have some normalcy in life while still being protected.
  5.  Coelacanth – Thought to have been extinct 65 million years ago, the Coelacanth is an oddity among fish. It has extra fins, muscular lobes that could’ve been the precursor to legs forming, and organs with odd features as well. Such as a tube shaped heart and a combined kidney.
  6.  Vince and Larry Crash Test Dummies – These guys have been put through a myriad of tests just to save lives. They have simulated death more times than Days of Our Lives.
  7.  Sewell’s Heart Pump – Built in the 40s by Yale, this was the precursor to the artificial heart. Tested successfully on several experiments with dogs.
  8.  Cher Ami – A carrier pigeon whom served in World War 1.
  9.  Mormon Sunstone – from the ill-fated Nauvoo Temple, carved out of stone to look like a sun
  10.  16th Century Mechanical Monk – this automaton is still fully functional, but do you really need to see him chant and perform a ritual to be creeped out? In case you do, here is a video of it in action.
  11.  18 and a half foot beard – sported by Hans Langseth in the early 1900s. Hans performed in side shows to show off his more than excellent hair growth. It was donated by his family after his demise.
  12.  The Original Teddy Bear – Inspired by a political cartoon aimed at Theodore Roosevelt. The rest is history.
  13.  Presidential Hair – hair preservation was common practice back in the day. Who wouldn’t want to see 14 presidents worth of luscious locks?
  14.  Napoleon’s Napkin – things that belonged to historical tyrants are always intriguing.
  15.  The Saint Augustine Monster – found by a few boys on Anastasia Island in Florida. It was the first “globster.” AKA an unidentified mass of organic substance.
  16.  Chrystal Skull – not on display unfortunately when we visited. I really wanted to make a movie reference for the best Indiana Jones movie known to man. Can you hear my sarcasm?
  17.  Politically Correct Elephant – though not really an oddity, it’s an elephant that’s male buy not as obviously as it used to be. They made some alterations to make the public happy. A few nips and tucks if you catch my drift.
  18.  The Spotsylvania Stump – Civil War relics are fairly common as far as museums go, but this artifact is a bit different as it shows the effects of  war on the environment.
  19.  Star Trek Phaser Gun – for the nerds who seek odd things.

Have anything to add? Comment below and I’ll add it to the list!

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