There are countless museums and exhibitions for art aficionados, almost as many for history buffs, quite a few just for students, and then there are the ones that deserve a category of their own. They’re unusual and generally pretty surprising, covering everything from eclectic art, TV and music to sports heroes. But they’re not boring or elitist, and even if you’re normally “not a museum person,” we think at least one of these might appeal to you.
David Bowie Retrospective
This is the exhibition to visit in summer 2014 if you love rock gods, goblin lords or 1970s-1980s pop memorabilia. David Bowie spent three years there in the late 1970s, writing three classic albums: Low, Heroes and Lodger. Approximately 300 memorabilia pieces, from that era and others, will be on display at Martin-Gropius building from May 20-August 10, 2014. This is the summer stop for an international exhibition curated by Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and it's not to miss.
Game of Thrones Exhibition
This traveling exhibition embraces its sci-fi/fantasy (dare we say geeky) original fan base by offering an Oculus Rift experience that brings the epic Game of Thrones world to virtual reality. For the un-techies, Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset touted as the "next big thing" in gaming. The experience tested in New York before officially debuting at SXSW in Austin. It’ll travel to five more major cities this summer, though unfortunately, none of them are in the USA, but Vancouver and Toronto are on the list.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Where do all the giant flashy neon signs go to retire once they’re torn off the ever-renovating Las Vegas Strip? Straight to the Neon Museum, that's where. With the really big signs resting in peace (some in pieces) outdoors, this museum is charmingly dubbed "The Boneyard." Found in downtown, this attraction is a big draw for amateur photographers and anyone nostalgic for Vegas’ seedy past. And in case you were wondering, it’s open for weddings!
"Give Peace a Chance" at Muhammad Ali Center
John Lennon and Yoko-Ono’s 1969 “Bed-In” will go down in history as a landmark example of a celebrity stunt embraced positively by the media for a good cause. This exhibit was originally held at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, but the traveling exhibition — largely comprised of stories and photographs — will be at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky from March 15-May 26. To really soak up that magical Lennon vibe, visit during the Beatles-inspired music festival “Abbey Road on the River” (May 22-26).
Salvador Dali Museum
St. Petersburg, Florida
Yes, it’s an art museum and it's one that “museum people” have on their bucket list. But with his whimsical weirdness, surrealist painter Salvador Dali produced work that can be appreciated even by the most casual viewers. Serious students can spend years and still not be 100 percent sure what was behind his melting fever-dream imagery. The Salvador Dali Museum’s executive staff cater to all types and ages, offering weekly “Yoga + Dali” practice, family activities every weekend, and a Warhol exhibit (through April 27, 2014) with a dubstep teaser.
ABBA: The Museum
An interactive exhibition dedicated to the Swedish pop/Euro-disco icons, this permanent collection opened in May 2013. The ABBA Museum's objective is to offer the “full ABBA experience” as though visitors were a band member. And yes, that means there will be karaoke, so you better brush up on your Fernando and Mamma Mia. There may also be dance parties, impromptu piano playing, and for sure plenty of awesome stage outfits from the Dancing Queen heyday to admire (though sadly, those are mostly behind protective glass and not available for interactive dance floor fun).
MUSA (Cancun Underwater Museum)
It’s interesting to see a destination putting such a literal spin on the “immersive experience.” You will in fact need to scuba dive 30 feet deep to appreciate the bizarre, beautiful, and ever-evolving collection of life-sized statues sunk by the Cancun Underwater Museum off the shores of Cancun and Isla de Mujeres. Nearly 500 pieces are down there, including a VW Bug, a disturbing piece called Time Bomb, and a crowd of 450 figures cast from real people. As was the intention, the pieces are turning into an artificial reef, with lobsters and eels lurking about and coral growing over the entirety. You can see some of the works from above if you’re snorkeling, but not with the same effect.
Museum of Russian Icons
Throughout its long, violent and controversial history, Russia has been consistent in bringing forth epic creative works in every medium. In the Museum of Russian Icons, visual arts are on full display and are intertwined with the Russian Orthodox religion. Every piece of iconic artwork in this collection is venerated, each with a faith-based origin — doors, plates, lacquer boxes, and more. It goes without saying that the Easter egg decorating workshops here take crafts to the next level.