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The Best American Museums to Visit While High

These funky exhibits are perfect for an opened mind.

by Brenden Gallagher

by Brenden Gallagher

Many stoners know the essential truth that museums are a totally different experience when you’re high—just like music is. In fact, some museums are also best experienced under the mind-altering affects of your chemical of choice. Across this great country, we have some of the strangest, coolest, and trippiest museums imaginable. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t include them in your next pharmacological road trip. Here are a few museums that the herb will do nothing but enhance.

The Mütter Museum (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Image via the Mütter Museum

One of several museums and attractions worth a visit in Philly, alongside Eastern Penitentiary, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and more, the Mütter Museum is one of the creepiest museums in the United States. Pieces of Albert Einstein’s brain, the skeleton of the largest man in North America, and a piece of John Wilkes Booth’s vertebrae are just some of the attractions that draw people to the Mütter. Located in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the museum displays its exhibits in Victorian cabinets to achieve maximum creepiness.

International Cryptozoology Museum (Portland, Maine)

Image via International Cryptozoology Museum

Cryptozoology is the study of “hidden” animals. Some might argue that these are animals that don’t exist; a cryptozoologist would say that maybe we just haven’t proven their existence yet. The terms could cover anything from Bigfoot, to sighting of animals non-native to a region. If you have a favorite creature of legend, be it the Jersey Devil, the Mothman, or Yeti, the International Cryptozoology Museum has the exhibit for you.

More interestingly for the adventurous stoner, the museum offers glimpses at hidden animals you’ve likely never heard of or imagined, including the Tatzelworm and the Feejee Mermaid. See if they don’t blow your mind.

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (New Orleans, La.)

Image via Ryan Lackey

From swamp boat gator tours, to the Audubon Insectarium, New Orleans is low-key an adventurous stoner’s dream. One of the coolest attractions in the perpetually bustling French Quarter is the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. For those interested in alternative medication, the Pharmacy Museum will push the limits of what you considered medicinal.

The museum, laid out in the style of an old-timey pharmacy, displays everything from your standard pills to alien erotic remedies for you to examine, arrayed in rows and rows of vials and containers. You can also peruse jars of leeches, vintage bone saws, and voodoo cures. For even the seasoned stoner, this museum will bring new meaning to the word “medicinal.”

Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum (Joshua Tree, Calif.)

Image via Desert Wanderlust

Maybe this place is best described as an outdoor art installation, but avant-garde artist Noah Purifoy was onto something when he labeled his expansive desert attraction a museum. In an empty plot spread across over seven acres in the middle of the desert, Purifoy arrayed American detritus in a way that is beautiful, compelling, and challenging. Crosses, bowling balls, kegs, TVs, and car parts combine to create a vision of modern America meant to decay and return to the desert right before your eyes.

If you go to the open-air attraction late in the day, you can watch the shadows play off of the sculptures as the sun sets, and from each angle the desert offers its own uncompromising perspective on the rotting trifles of humanity.

Noah Purifoy’s Museum is free and deceptively simple, and it is also quite an experience.

Porter Sculpture Park (Montrose, S.D.)

Image via Eli Duke

Off I-90 in South Dakota, motorists are stirred out of the mundane repetition of their cross-country road trips by the sudden appearance of dozens of sculptures on the side of the road. A giant metal hand, a 60-foot cow head, and a Grim Reaper made of pipes are just a few of the 50-plus pieces contained in this expansive gallery.

If you’re lucky, you might see something very special at the park; creator and sculptor Wayne Porter is known to hang out around the park and chat with passersby. Porter has been running the park since the ’80s, and thankfully for bored travelers, he shows no signs of slowing down.

The Neon Museum (Las Vegas, Nev.)

Image via Kory Westerhold

While the Vegas Strip has a culture of tearing down the slightly aged to build up something grander, hipper, and more decadent in its place, Downtown Las Vegas has shifted to a culture of preservation. From the Fremont Experience, which has turned golden age casinos into a family-friendly thoroughfare, to bars like Atomic Liquors and Dino’s that keep the memory of Old Vegas alive, Downtown has become the cool, historic answer to the Strip’s glimmering, merciless opulence.

One of the best innovations to come out of the Downtown Vegas preservation movement is the Neon Museum. The museum is a self-described boneyard, where neon signs from demolished casinos, abandoned bars, and long-closed attractions gain a second life, even though most of them remain unrepaired. If you can take a slice of a time off from the customary vices of Sin City, a night tour is the way to go, with some signs restored and others lit up to highlight the loss of the majesty they once possessed.


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Brenden Gallagher

Brenden Gallagher works in television and writing in Los Angeles. He worked on Revenge, Heartbeat, and Famous in Love. His writing has appeared at Complex, VH1, and MERRY JANE. Follow him on Twitter @muddycreekU



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