Well, there are a lot of weird museums in Austin Tx. And why won’t there be, Austin itself is known to be one of the weirdest cities in America. If it truly is”weird” or not is up for debate. Nevertheless, Austin tx wears its weirdness like a badge and celebrates it proudly. It has given the city a sense of collectivism and identity. This has also helped in tourism and commercialization.
1. History of the “Keep Austin Weird” Movement
The history of Austin being called weird dates back to 2000 when a community college librarian called Red Wassenich phoned the KOOP radio’s The Lounge Show to donate money. Upon being asked why he was donating the money, he replied with the words “I don’t know, it helps keep Austin weird.” This phrase stuck with him and ignited something in his mind. He and his wife came up with this bizarre idea to make bumper stickers that say “Keep Austin Weird.”
Soon enough, local businesses started using this phrase to encourage people to shop locally and support local businesses. But this movement gained the immense popularity and impact that it holds presently only after 2003 when the presidents of BookPeople and Waterloo Records used it to protest against the opening of a big box store in their neighborhood.
They did so by producing their bumper stickers with the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” with the additional tagline of “Support Local Businesses”. These were sold rapidly and as of today, around 500,000 bumper stickers have been distributed.
This mantra helped in the formation of a collective identity among the people of the capital of the state of Texas. It gave a unique, fun, and amazing angle to all the carnival attractions, exhibits, and references in popular culture regarding Austin.
2. Weird Museums in Austin Tx
Museums play a very important and integral role in the identity of any city all over the world. Museums are a reflection of the past of the people and communities in the city. They put on display the nature and soul of any particular place.
Similarly, the museums of Austin, Texas, keep up the identity of the weirdness of the city. To fully revel in the movement, one must visit the galleries and museums here. From Fiji mermaids to the Museum of the Weird, from quirky oddities to the Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata, only visiting these places with friends and family can truly display the different ways in which Austin Tx stands out.
Reading the reviews on the internet reviews is one thing, but physically being present in these places and getting a first-hand experience of them will leave you with even more than what you had gone in expecting.
Here is the list of 5 weird museums in Austin tx that you must visit.
2.1 Museum of the Weird
The Museum of the Weird is possibly one of the most bizarre attractions in Austin. It is located at the back of the gift shop called Lucky Lizard Curios in the heart of Downtown Austin at 412 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701, United States.
Along with the museum, you will also get to shop for weird things and view a creepy collection of merchandise. Entering the shop is completely free, only entry into the museum requires a fee of $12.99 for adults and $8.99 for children under the age of 8.
The shop consists of mostly locally handmade artifacts and a few imported goods. The merchandise in this shop is one of a kind and is not found anywhere else in the world. If you happen to visit the Museum of the Weird, you must purchase something from the shop.
As for the museum itself, it has a “Cabinet of Curiosities” which has mummies, the Fiji mermaid, shrunken heads, the Bigfoot, and many many more. It also has the infamous “Creature in Ice” which is said to be the missing link between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals. The museum also features a movie monster wax museum called the “Sfanthor’s Chamber of Horrors,” where you can find multiple characters from famous horror movies in popular culture.
The Museum of the Weird attempts at reviving the trend of the dime museums.
2.2 Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata
The Museum of Natural and Artifical Ephemerata is located in East Austin at 1808 Singleton Ave, Austin, TX 78702, United States, and is a family-run museum. It was originally found in 1921.
The museum has irrefutably one of the craziest collections of oddities in the world. Starting from the butt of the last cigarette smoked by Marilyn Monroe to a narwhal tooth replica, from a piece of Elvis Presley’s hair to a stuffed pygmy kangaroo, the museum adds the “weird” to Austin’s weird museums.
The owners of the home museum, Scott Webel and Jen Hirt provide a personal tour of the museum to guide you through it and explain the facts and stories behind each artifact that is on display in the museum.
The museum has traveled alongside the couple as they shifted homes from one site to another in Austin.
2.3 Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions is located at 11010 Domain Dr #100, Austin, TX 78758, United States. It is a very recently opened museum. It was first opened on March 2023.
This museum provides an interactive and immersive experience to its visitors of all ages. The museum takes people on an unusual journey with illusionistic artworks and artifacts. It has large illusion-based rooms that confuse people’s perceptions of their surroundings and make them think. They captivate your mind and demand your complete attention. Visiting this museum will never leave you bored for even one second.
The museum does not only entertain its visitors but also aims at educating them about the intricately complex nature of the human mind and consciousness. Exhibits in the Museum of Illusions, Austin tx consist of Head on A Platter, Reversed Room, The Tilted Room, The Clone Table, and many more.
Since it is in Austin, it includes local talent. The museum features the local artist Amy Cook. Her infamous “I love you so much” mural present in Downtown Austin is featured in a lifesize illusion.
The museum stays open on Sundays to Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and an hour extra on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
2.4 Texas Selfie Museum
The Texas Selfie Museum opened its Austin branch in 2022. It is located at 503 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701, USA.
If you’re looking to get amazing selfies for that fire post on Instagram or you happen to be in Austin and want to enjoy a fun and quirky day with your friends making memories and clicking goofy photos with amazing backdrops, this is the place to be. Austin may be called weird, but it surely is innovative and trendy as heck.
It is an insanely creative space and provides an opportunity for up-and-coming influencers on the internet to get those pictures that will earn them millions of likes. Photos and videos shot here surpass all levels of awesomeness from all over the world.
The museum has 35 installation spaces that span across 2 floors with all the required props, backdrops, lighting, and other provisions to take some amazingly cool selfies. The museum even provides its visitors with photography assistants to capture the best possible pictures of themselves.
The museum stays open for all days of the week. On Mondays to Thursdays, the ticket costs $28 and on Fridays to Sundays, the ticket costs $34. The sessions are an hour long. The museum also has an option of Annual Selfie Passes for $68. This VIP pass gives you the perk of unlimited visits to the museum throughout the year.
2.5 South Austin Popular Culture Center
Also known as the Austin Museum of Popular Culture or AusPop, it is located at 6416 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78752, United States.
The AusPop (known formerly as Southpop) museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing Austin’s contribution to the world of popular culture. It was founded in 2004. They have numerous artifacts and exhibitions that do this. The museum collects and preserves such artifacts.
The museum features local artists who were mainly responsible for the buildup of the weird movement and those who contributed to it greatly. It is a completely independent museum that allows its visitors to learn more about the artistic and cultural history of the city.
It displays vintage posters and pictures alongside live music starting from the 1960s till today. The museum hosts exhibitions, free-of-cost performances by local bands, and other events that help to bring communities together with the help of a love for art, music, and culture.
One should check out their website to learn more about their event schedules.
Well, to keep up with “Keep Austin Weird” culture, these museums sure play a role. These 5 museums will give you a real glance into the bizarre side of Austin.
So, why wait? Get going!!