Tour 6 Homes of Eccentric Collectors

PHOTO: Bowes Museum, Durham, England
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For a break from the usual tourist destinations, how about visiting the home of a collector? Not your run-of-the-mill baseball card or Hummel collection, mind you: No, the following six places house everything from a Samurai collection to architectural oddities. There's even a house built into a rock, but it doesn't house a rock collection.

Click through the next few pages to see the homes of six eccentric collectors.

PHOTO: Sir John Soane's Museum, London
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"This must be one of the most extraordinary houses in London," wrote one TripAdvisor reviewer. Visitors stroll through rooms packed floor to ceiling archeological and artistic treasures (including Hogarth's The Rake's Progress series, which is displayed in a brilliant and unique fashion).

Another reviewer wrote, "This museum is idiosyncratic and NOT to be missed -- and it's FREE! Just make a meaningful donation to keep up the good work."

Insider tip: don't leave without visiting the WC.

PHOTO: House on the Rock, Spring Green, Wisconsin
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"If you can imagine something that somebody would collect, it's represented here," wrote one TripAdvisor reviewer who visited House on the Rock. Another titled their review, "Ali Baba + Tim Burton = House on the Rock." The house was "built into and onto a giant rock" by Alex Jordan and is architecturally interesting itself, but TripAdvisor travelers say the collections are mind-blowing -- and many recommend allowing an entire day for your visit if you want to see everything.

PHOTO: Snowshill Manor, Worcester, England
TripAdvisor

"The house was the most bizarre gathering of a man's possessions I have ever seen… I think I will definitely return," wrote a TripAdvisor traveler who visited Snowshill Manor, the home of early 20th-century collector Charles Wade. Another reviewer said, "There is something for everyone, from a large Samurai collection, to scrimshaw work, old bicycles and the entire collection of an old cobbler's shop!"

It's also very kid-friendly. According to another traveler, "They have a volunteer in each room who will explain an item and let the children touch."

PHOTO: Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
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Sarah Winchester supposedly built this 160-room house on the advice of a medium who said she needed to keep building, 24/7, to appease the spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles -- which her husband's family manufactured and which were the source of her fortune.

Construction took 38 years, stopping only when Mrs. Winchester died. Architectural oddities abound ("Windows looking on blank walls, stairs to nowhere," as one TripAdvisor traveler put it), but the construction quality is magnificent. The main gripe of TripAdvisor travelers is the price of admission: currently $30 for adults and $20 for kids.

PHOTO: Bayernhof Music Museum
TripAdvisor

This 19,000 sq. ft. home was completed in 1982 and opened to the public after the death of its owner, Charles W. Brown III, who collected automated musical instruments and music boxes. But you don't have to be an aficionado of those items in order to appreciate the unique architecture of the house. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, you'll see "Secret passageways, 11 bars, several kitchens, a winding cave to the wine cellar… a rooftop observatory, murals depicting scenes of Germany... the list goes on and on."

Note: the museum is open for pre-arranged guided tours only.

PHOTO: Bowes Museum, Durham, England
TripAdvisor

This lovely country house offers, according to one TripAdvisor traveler, "Exhibits unique to the local area as well as beautiful collections of items and artifacts from around the world." Several reviewers say the museum's Silver Swan, an automaton made in the 18th century, is worth the trip alone. In the words of one TripAdvisor traveler, "It is magical and seems almost impossible for the era."

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