FROM THE PUBLISHER
In this jaded technological age, most of us think we've "been there, done that." But Saul Rubin's rousing romp through the showcases of our country's weirdest wonders suggests that maybe we haven't "been there" at all. Offbeat Museums is a wild ride that takes us to places previously unexplored, like the Banana Museum in California, the Liberace Museum in Nevada, and Leila's Hair Museum in Missouri.
Take a stroll through The Shoe Museum in Philadelphia, where you can view an ancient Sultan's slipper or the enormous size-18D Oxfords worn by a circus tall man in the thirties. If you dare, sample something a little more macabre, like the Museum of Death in San Diego. Enter this world of decay through the museum's coffin-like foyer, and meander through its serial killer exhibit, or its display of mortuary tools, instruments of execution, and embalming fluids. Or take a truly memorable trip to Mister Ed's Elephant Museum, which boasts a 10-foot tall fiberglass elephant that wiggles its ears and tail. The museum's collection of elephant-related items is as vast as a pachyderm's appetite, and curator Ed Gotwalt serves up freshly roasted peanuts for those who share the animal's taste.
Offbeat Museums is truly a modern cabinet of curiosities. It not only offers a guided tour of the wackiest museums out there, but also a profile of the often outlandish curators who run them. By stepping outside the mainstream, Offbeat Museums -- and the kooky collections it details -- meets and even surpasses the promise of traditional museums: To amaze, inspire, and enlighten us all.