Philadelphia's Oddball Museums
Philadelphia has an amazing assortment of small single-interest museums, built out of the passions of, or inspired by, a single individual. Maybe you and your family are ready for these!
- The Mummers Parade on New Year's Day is uniquely Philadelphian; dozens of crews spend months practicing their musical and strutting skills with spectacular costumes. Mumming comes out of both Anglo-Saxon pagan celebrations and African dancing. The seriously worn, slightly fabulous Mummers Museum, South 2nd Street and Washington Avenue (tel. 215/336-3050; www.mummersmuseum.com), is devoted to the history and display of this phenomenon. It's open October through April Wednesday through Saturday from 9:30am to 4:30pm and May through September Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm and Thursday 9:30am to 9:30pm.
- In the northeast district of the city (yes, it's a schlep), Steve Kanya's Insectarium, 8046 Frankford Ave. (tel. 215/335-9500; www.myinsectarium.com), has taken off mostly as a school-class destination. The $7 admission lets you watch more than 40,000 assorted bugs and their predators (scorpions, tarantulas, and so on) scurry around. (The museum owner, by the way, is an exterminator.) It's open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
- Not for the squeamish is the Philadelphia College of Physician's Mutter Museum, 19 S. 22nd St. (tel. 215/563-3737), a collection of preserved human oddities assembled in the 1850s by a Philadelphia physician. Skeletons of giants and dwarves and row upon row of plaster casts of abnormalities inhabit this musty place.