Unique Museums

Explore the Unique, Quirky, & Mysterious at Midwest Museums

From coast to coast, a unique Midwest museum is never too far out of reach. From national historical sites and quirky shrines to food to famous childhood homes and extensive collections of memorabilia, there’s a museum in the Midwest that will delight even the most skeptical of museum-goers.

Whether you want to explore more of your home state or explore more of the Midwest, these museums showcase exactly what puts the Midwest in a category all its own. 

Super Museum-Metropolis Illinois
Super Museum | photo via dustinisgoingplaces

The Super Museum

Metropolis, Illinois

The “official” hometown of the Man of Steel is home to a super-sized delight for all ages. Fans can see mementos for Superman shows and movies, props (including Superman glasses), and costumes.

Oz Museum

Wamego, Kansas

Follow the Yellow Brick Road and gather your friends to celebrate the legacy of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” with exhibits on the book, the beloved movie, games, collectibles, and more.

National Mustard Museum

Middleton, Wisconsin

Mustard fans will relish that chance to catch up (or ketchup?) on a collection that features more than 4,000 jars, tubes, and bottles of mustard from more than 60 nations. The museum also includes ads, mustard pots, and unique gifts.

American Museum of Magic

Marshall, Michigan

The American Museum of Magic houses the largest collection of magic-related artifacts and stories in the country, and visitors can learn more about the world’s most famous magicians, as well as the evolution of this craft.

RELATED: Don’t miss these other museums in Marshall, Michigan!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Cleveland, Ohio

Music fans absolutely should visit this music mecca at least once and prepare to lose themselves in the sheer excitement of memorabilia and countless displays dedicated to the biggest acts in the history of rock and roll.

RELATED: Make plans to visit more of the best museums in Ohio.

A Christmas Story House & Museum

Cleveland, Ohio

Break out your bunny PJs and Red Ryder BB gun and tour the famed A Christmas Story House, which looks exactly as it did in the movie. It’s also available for overnight stays for a one-of-a-kind experience.

North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

Medora, North Dakota

Visitors can learn about the state’s Native Americans, homesteaders, rodeo cowboys, and others who shaped Plains history and the state’s Western lifestyle and legacy.

Greyhound Bus Museum

Hibbing, Minnesota

Hibbing is recognized as the birthplace of the US bus industry and is dedicated to the history of the Greyhound Bus Company, with exhibits on the company’s origins, vintage buses, and the impact of bus travel.

A World of Accordions Museum | photo via luvzog

Evel Knievel Museum

Topeka, Kansas

This shrine to the famous daredevil inspires visitors of all ages with a collection of motorcycles and other artifacts that helped launch Knievel’s legend, in addition to many stories that helped make him an icon.

Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame

New Castle, Indiana

Basketball is a way of life in Indiana and hoops fans can celebrate the history and heritage of basketball in the Hoosier State, with exhibits on legendary players, teams, and more.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Kansas City, Missouri

Diehard baseball fans can gain an in-depth glimpse into the stories, history, and impact of Negro League players, teams, and many others who left a lasting mark and helped break Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

A World of Accordions Museum

Superior, Wisconsin

Music aficionados will delight in a collection of more than 1,000 accordions which are stacked in floor-to-ceiling racks and displayed by type, brand name, and county of origin, showcasing this unique instrument’s many contributions to music.

South Dakota
Crazy Horse Memorial | photo via peter.schaich

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse, South Dakota

This granite memorial celebrates the legacy of Lakota leader Crazy Horse and the heritage of Native Americans, rising more than 6,000 feet above sea level and includes an onsite museum

Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame

Hayward, Wisconsin

This iconic museum is a mecca for anglers worldwide who come to celebrate the history of freshwater fishing, notable figures, and memorable catches.

Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site

Pawnee Rock, Kansas

Stepping into the museum is like stepping back in time and intricate displays showcase traditional clothing, tools, artwork, and more, providing insight into the rich heritage of the Pawnee tribe in the Great Plains.

International Quilt Museum

Lincoln, Nebraska

Home to the world’s largest publicly held quilt collection, visitors can take a trip through time to see intricate quilted works of art representing more than 60 countries with pieces dating back to the early 1700s.

The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village-Michigan
The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village | photo via ahajizade

The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village

Dearborn, Michigan

The Henry Ford, the nation’s largest indoor-outdoor museum, is brimming with American innovation and history. Visitors can see exhibits of important historical artifacts like the Rosa Parks bus, explore historic districts at Greenfield Village, and see the famed assembly line in action on a Ford Rouge Factory Tour.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Kansas City, Missouri

Unleash your inner child at this museum which houses one of the largest collections of antique toys and miniatures in the world. Visitors can learn about toy history and see teddy bears, dolls, and hundreds of other toys.

Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center

Chamberlain, South Dakota

The museum’s collection includes more than 4,000 permanent pieces and visitors can learn about important aspects of Lakota culture including spirit animals, leaders, and legends.

Grotto of the Redemption

West Bend, Iowa

This massive religious shrine, constructed of countless minerals and precious stones, is a sight to behold as the world’s largest man-made grotto – actually nine separate grottos that depict different scenes in the life of Jesus Christ.

Museum of the Fur Trade

Chadron, Nebraska

This museum houses one of the most comprehensive collections of artifacts relating to the fur trade. Visitors can see replications of Native American jewelry, antique fabrics, and the remnants of the Bordeaux Trading Post, built in 1837.

Nun Doll Museum

Indian River, Michigan

Located at Cross in the Woods, the site of one of largest crucifixes in the world, the Nun Doll Museum features a collection of dolls – more than 500 – dressed in the traditional habits of religious communities.

Matchstick Marvels Museum

Gladbrook, Iowa

This museum showcases the masterpieces of Patrick Action, who turns matchsticks into incredible works of art, including models of the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the US Capitol.

Adams Museum

Deadwood, South Dakota

The oldest museum in the Black Hills is a shrine to the quirky history of Deadwood and includes exhibits about the Wild West artifacts and local legends, including a 7.3-ounce gold nugget, and information on the gold rush.

World's Largest Buffalo-North Dakota
World’s Largest Buffalo | photo via tylertheusonian

Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site

Hanover, Kansas

This site preserves one of the nation’s few remaining Pony Express stations, and visitors can dive into the deep history of the Pony Express to gain insight into the country’s westward expansion.

National Buffalo Museum

Jamestown, North Dakota

Visitors can discover the fascinating and impactful history of the North American bison as they learn about conservation efforts and gaze upon a live herd of buffalo and rare albino bison.

National Museum of the Great Lakes

Toledo, Ohio

The Great Lakes play a vital role in much of the Midwest and this museum showcases their history and importance with hundreds of artifacts, hands-on exhibits, and guided ship tours.

RELATED: Explore more things to do in Toledo.

Nebraska Bigfoot Crossroads of America

Hastings, Nebraska

Bigfoot hunters, enthusiasts, and curious travelers alike can explore exhibits (including life-size statues) related to the legendary figure, learn educational information about Sasquatch, and even learn about Bigfoot researchers.

The City Museum-Missouri
The City Museum | photo via nicolleorne

National Music Museum

Vermillion, South Dakota

Visitors of all ages will be enthralled by the sheer amount of stuff, which includes over 15,000 instruments that span different centuries and cultures.

Paul Broste Rock Museum

Parshall, North Dakota

The brainchild of rock collector Paul Broste is made from some of the finest rocks in the world. Visitors can marvel at the sheer beauty of nature in rock displays, framed arrowheads, and more.

City Museum

St. Louis, Missouri

Housed in a former shoe factory, the museum features tunnels, slides, and climbing structures crafted from reclaimed materials and a variety of art exhibits.

Thomas Edison Depot Museum

Port Huron, Michigan

Inside the historic Fort Gratiot Train Depot is the site where Thomas Edison worked as a reporter from 1859 to 1863 along with several exhibits that showcase the trials, tribulations, and genius of the famed inventor who lived here as a youth.

RELATED: Visit more of the best train museums in Michigan

Judy Garland Museum-Minnesota
Judy Garland Museum | photo via raynez_dayz

Judy Garland Museum

Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Grand Rapids is the birthplace of Judy Garland, who was born there in 1922 and famously played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The museum is attached to her childhood home and showcases her career.

Pavek Museum

St. Louis Park, Minnesota

The museum’s extensive collection of antique TVs, broadcast equipment, and radios intrigues even the most tech-savvy visitors. Guests can play vintage records, play the theremin, tune a radio from the 1920s, and more.

The Indiana Medical History Museum

Indianapolis, Indiana

Situated on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital, the IMHM is the nation’s oldest surviving pathology laboratory and includes a teaching amphitheater, and an anatomical room full of preserved specimens.

The Antique Fan Museum

Zionsville, Indiana

Visitors can stroll through the museum and marvel at more than 2,000 antique desk and ceiling fans, see the oldest electric desk in the world, and countless other fan displays.

Merry-Go-Round Museum-Ohio
Merry-Go-Round Museum | photo via craftyoddball

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

Grand Island, Nebraska

This vast Grand Island campus presents a powerful experience through historic exhibits, living history attractions, and cultural programs, including a recreated 1890s Railroad Town living history exhibit.

Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum

Pontiac, Illinois

There are quite a few museums along The Mother Road, and this one allows visitors of all ages to soak up the history of this great highway through historic photos and thousands of pieces of memorabilia.

Dickson Mounds

Lewistown, Illinois

History buffs will love gaining insights into Illinois’ indigenous tribes here. The museum features a variety of artifact displays and more to present a 12,000-year journey of tribes in the Illinois River Valley.

Merry-Go-Round Museum

Sandusky, Ohio

The centerpiece of this fun museum – housed in a historic post office — is a carousel that invites all visitors to indulge their inner child. Visitors can learn about merry-go-round restoration and watch a carver create beautiful carousel animals. 

RELATED: Explore more to do in Sandusky.

The SPAM Museum-Minnesota
The SPAM Museum | photo via rkayla

North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum

Bismarck, North Dakota

Six hundred million years of North Dakota history comes alive in the NoDak capital city with everything from a T. rex skeleton to a spacesuit to rare pottery and beadwork, plus simulators and interactive exhibits.

The Historic Auto Attractions

Roscoe, Illinois

Put your nostalgia goggles on and dive into this fascinating collection of classic and historic cars and pop culture exhibits. Exhibits include classic TV cars and multiple rooms dedicated to subjects like NASA and the Kennedy Family.

The House on the Rock

Spring Green, Wisconsin

This unique attraction, perched on a rock, has been a work in progress since 1945 and offers a look at eclectic collections such as the world’s largest indoor carousel, intricate dollhouses, artwork, and elaborate music machines. 

The SPAM Museum

Austin, Minnesota

Fans of the famous canned meat can explore this quirky museum dedicated to the history and production of SPAM. It may be one of the mouthwatering trips through history you’ll ever take.

American Gothic House Center

Eldon, Iowa

The American Gothic House was made famous by Grant Wood’s 1930 painting allows tours and visitors are encouraged to have their photo taken in the style of the famous painting (outfits are provided).

National Model Aviation Museum

Muncie, Indiana

The largest model aviation in the nation has more than 10,000 artifacts, allowing visitors to trace the history of aeromodelling and its importance to aviation while enjoying interactive exhibits and flight simulators.

John Wayne Birthplace & Museum

Winterset, Iowa

Fans of John Wayne won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit his hometown and the only museum dedicated to The Duke. Visitors can enjoy memorabilia from his career, movie screenings, live performances, and more.

National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame

Troy, Michigan

The NPASHF recognizes the accomplishments of professional and amateur athletes of Polish descent. Visitors can see a Hall of Fame-worthy collection of artifacts from Stan “The Man” Musial, Vince Lombardi, Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, and dozens of others.

RELATED: Visit more of Michigan’s awesome sports museums.

Badlands Dinosaur Museum-North Dakota
Badlands Dinosaur Museum | photo via moriahness_

Ohio Glass Museum & Glass Blowing Studio

Lancaster, Ohio

Visitors can learn about the importance and history of glassmaking in Ohio, see first-hand glass-blowing demonstrations, purchase beautiful glassware, and even try their hand at glass-blowing.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum

Mansfield, Missouri

The historic home of famed “Little House on the Prarie” author Laura Ingalls Wilder allows readers and fans of the series to see artifacts and exhibits related to her life, including manuscripts and family keepsakes.

Badlands Dinosaur Museum

Dickinson, North Dakota

Step back into prehistoric times and marvel at the largest number of dinosaur fossils in North Dakota, including Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurs. The museum also features other prehistoric fossils from the Age of Mammals.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Indianapolis, Indiana

The largest children’s museum in the world is a delight for kids of all ages. Young visitors can enjoy interactive exhibits on science, history, and art, including a full-size dinosaur skeleton and a space station replica.

Hjemkomst Center-Minnesota
Hjemkomst Center | photo via brandonbossanova

Illinois Railway Museum

Union, Illinois

The largest railway museum in the United States is a “museum in motion” which features historic trains, streetcars, and exhibits on the history of rail transportation.

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Dubuque, Iowa

This shrine to this iconic American river is part science center, part museum, and part aquarium that features exhibits on the ecology and history of the Mississippi River.

Hjemkomst Center

Moorhead, Minnesota

The Hjemkomst Center features a full-scale replica of a Viking ship and exhibits on Norwegian heritage and the history of Scandinavian immigrants in the region.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Philip, South Dakota

Wrapped in Cold War history, the museum preserves the role of the Minuteman Missle — an iconic piece of nuclear history. Visitors can see exhibits on the history of this Midwest arsenal and take guided tours of missile silos.

The History Museum at the Castle-Wisconsin
The History Museum at the Castle | photo via oplaceswego

The Jesse James Home Museum

St. Joseph, Missouri

The preserved home where outlaw Jesse James was killed in 1882 offers visitors a glimpse into his life, criminal exploits, and death with artifacts like a bullet removed from James’ body, a casting of his skull, and a pin he was wearing when he was shot.

Museum of World Treasures

Wichita, Kansas

History comes alive around every corner as visitors can dive into a diverse collection of historical artifacts from around the world, including dinosaur fossils, Egyptian mummies, and military memorabilia.

The History Museum at the Castle

Appleton, Wisconsin

Housed inside a former Masonic Temple, this museum is most famous for its Houdini section, dedicated to the famous magician Harry Houdini. The collection includes photos, equipment, and papers, and visitors can even try some of his tricks for themselves.

Museum of Shadows

Omaha, Nebraska

Voted the “World’s Most Haunted Museum,” visitors who dare enter can take self-guided tours to see more than 3,000 verified haunted artifacts. Enter if you dare and keep your eyes peeled for any paranormal activity.

Explore the Most Unique Museums in the Midwest

Whether you want to dive into the complexities of Bigfoot, sample many kinds of mustard, give yourself a scare, or learn more about the history of your favorite sport, there’s a unique Midwest museum waiting for you to explore.

No matter your interest, chances are good there’s a Midwest museum dedicated to it. Even if you’re not a serious museum-goer, at least one or two museums will leave you shaking your head in amazement and wonder.