Eclectic Exhibitions Around the World

PHOTO: David Bowie is pictured during the video filming for "Ashes to Ashes" in 1980. Approximately 300 pieces of memorabilia are on display at the David Bowie Retrospective in Berlin, Germany.Brian Duffy/Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive
David Bowie is pictured during the video filming for "Ashes to Ashes" in 1980. Approximately 300 pieces of memorabilia are on display at the David Bowie Retrospective in Berlin, Germany.

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 usually surprising. But they’re not boring or elitist – and even if you’re normally “not a museum person,” at least one of them just might appeal to you

David Bowie Retrospective – Berlin, Germany

Even though it’s over in Berlin, 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 here in the late seventies 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.

Neon Museum – 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 – with the really big pieces resting in peace (and/or pieces) outdoors, in what’s charmingly dubbed The Boneyard. This downtown 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!

Game of Thrones Exhibition -- Multiple

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 GoT 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 – unfortunately, none of them in the USA, but Vancouver and Toronto are on the list.

The Dali Museum – St. Petersburg, Florida

Yes, it’s an art museum, and one that “museum people” have on their bucket list. But with his whimsy and weirdness and fun-mixed-with-creepy factor, 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 sure what was behind his melting fever-dream imagery. The 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.

Give Peace a Chance at Muhammad Ali Center – Louisville, Kentucky

John Lennon and Yoko-Ono’s 1969 “Bed-In” will go down in history as a landmark example of celebrity stunt-queening in the media for a good cause. It originally happened at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, but the traveling exhibit – largely comprised of stories and photographs – will be at Muhammed Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky from March 15-May 26. To really soak up that magical Lennon vibe, visit during Beatles-inspired music festival “Abbey Road on the River,” (May 22-26).

Museum of Russian Icons – Clinton, Massachusetts

Throughout its long, violent and controversial history, Russia has been consistent in bringing forth epic creative works in every medium. And Russian taste has always been totally over the top. During the last Winter Olympics, viewers got a glimpse of Russian performing arts. In this museum – the largest collection on the continent – it’s the visual arts on display, intertwined with Russian Orthodox religion. Every piece of iconic artwork in this collection is venerated, of faith-based origin: doors, plates, lacquer boxes, and more. It goes without saying that the Easter egg decorating workshops here are next-level.

MUSA (Cancun Underwater Museum) – Cancun, Mexico

It’s interesting to see a destination putting such a literal spin on the “immersive experience”. You will in fact need to SCUBA 30 feet deep to appreciate the bizarre, beautiful, ever-evolving collection of life-sized statues sunk off the shores of Cancun and Isla de Mujeres. Nearly 500 pieces are down there, including a VW Bug and a disturbing piece called Timebomb…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.

Abba: The Museum – Stockholm, Sweden

An interactive exhibition dedicated to the Swedish pop/Euro-disco icons, this permanent collection opened in May 2013. The objective is to offer the “full ABBA experience” as though visitors were a band member…and yes, that means there will be karaoke. So brush up on your “Fernando,” “Super Trouper” 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. Sadly, those are mostly behind protective glass and not available for interactive dance floor fun.