The Weirdest Museums in America


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Hi! I’m Mia Harris, a 2022 graduate of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis where I received a BFA in Communication Design. I’m a San Diego-based designer and when I’m not creating, you can find me reading, making jewelry, or planning my next backpacking trip.︎


︎ mia@harris95.com

︎ @miaharrisdesign

︎ LinkedIn

Capstone, Jan-May 2022

For my capstone, I designed a 119-page book about the strangest museums in the United States. This book serves as a collection of collection of sorts, as museums are really just collections. While doing initial content research for this project, I realized how few books there are about strange museums specifically. I came across plenty of books about “must-visit” sites and things like that, but very few mentioned museums. As a person that likes collections and oddities, I decided to create a book that compiles the weirdest of the weird. In it, I included things such as the International Banana Museum, the Hammer Museum, and the Idaho Potato Museum. I used visual design to show readers the excitement and oddities of these specialty museums in the United States. My final deliverable was a large coffee table-style book and with a folded pull-out map inside.

Many people have preconceived notions about museums, like that they’re “boring”, and may not want to read a book about them. However, many people have not had the privilege to be able to visit specialty museums that house exciting and never-before-seen content. My hope is that people can learn how exciting some of these museums are and change their mind about them. My audience is three main categories of people: people who are interested in weird/obscure things, people who are planning a trip in the US, and people who are interested in learning about new things. There is a whole world of specialty museums and collections that many people aren’t aware of. I’ve been lucky enough to visit a couple of odd museums in my life, and one thing I noticed is how everyone walking around the museum tends to be so interested in the collections and exhibits there. These are families, groups of friends, and solo travelers with many different interests. Everyone gets excited about seeing things they’ve never seen before, no matter what it is, and that’s what’s so special about these weird museums. Personally, I’m not overly excited about mustard, yet I would absolutely love to see the National Mustard Museum because of the sheer novelty of it. My brother isn’t a huge fan of museums normally, but he loved the Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas because of the excitement of seeing things he didn’t even know existed. My hope is that my audience will become excited about the strange museums they read about and become inspired to visit!

View full PDF here (note: some photos may appear differently on the screen than in print)