Revealed! Dublin's most enjoyable attraction (hic!)



There aren't many museums in the world where you're likely to find yourself doing an impromptu jig with a stranger while listening to live music, having just polished off a self-poured glass of the world's best acquired taste.

Actually there's only one – and that's the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, comfortably the best booze-themed tourist attraction we've ever poured into.

Looking from the outside just like any other factory building, inside it's a Guinness lover's Chocolate Factory (you half expect Willy Wonka to pop out wearing one of the many novelty hats).

A series of escalators takes you on a plotted history of the Guinness brand, explaining how, for centuries, Arthur Guinness and his protégés ran their business in that most old fashioned of ways – by employing thousands of people from their own town.

It also explains how Guinness philanthropy has contributed many of the city's finest buildings over the years, leaving you with that warm feeling in your belly so rarely roused by the actions of big businesses today.

If that's something for the social history nuts, then the more scientifically curious will lap up the walk-through explaining just how the black stuff is made.



There's also an interesting insight into Guinness advertising which was as pioneering in the past as it was during the famous 'tick-follow-tock-follow-tick' surfing horses that became famous in the 90s.

But let's get onto the good stuff. For all the storehouse makes a valiant effort to keep the focus off the alcohol, what sets this place apart is the fact that it's also partly the best pub in the world.

Lessons in pouring the perfect pint are great fun even if you've worked in a bar before. Who knew, for example, that you can tell a well-poured Guinness by letting it settle and then slowly trying to pour it on the floor (the head should move as one and prevent any spillage)?



Above another two levels of live music is the museum's crowning glory, another bar encased by 360 degrees of glass, giving you an unparalleled view of the city. It's at this point that it is likely to first dawn on you that the whole bizarre building is shaped like a pint glass, and you're standing in the creamy head.

Slight overcrowding can be a problem - although maybe we shouldn't have gone on St. Patrick's Day – but that's no more true of the Storehouse than it is of any city's key tourist attractive.

The difference is that, if you're a fan of the black gold, this is a hell of a lot more fun.

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Revealed! Dublin's most enjoyable attraction (hic!)
'The world's largest collection devoted to any one fruit', the International Banana Club Museum has just reopened in new premises. The 17,000 banana-related items are displayed in four areas. The – ahem – Hard Section showcases fruits in brass, ceramic and the like, including the world's only petrified banana. Sweets, cereals, soaps and sodas feature in the Food, Drink and Notions Section. And, after the Clothing area, you can crash out in the Soft Section on an eight-foot banana sofa. 'Nothing lude, crude or lascivious is accepted or displayed'. But it might drive you bananas...
Caught short? Head to the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, where Dr Bindeshwar Pathak's worldwide research into the evolution of the human waste receptacle has resulted in a collection that some might call a load of old toilet. But pictures, exhibits – even poetry – relate the history of the toilet and related customs. Check out the chamber pots – veritable Victorian objets d'art – the French toilet disguised as a bookcase and the replica of King Louis XIII's throne, with its concealed commode.
What constitutes good art is a matter of opinion, but founder and curator of the Museum of Bad Art was pushed over the edge when he discovered 'Lucy in the Field with Flowers', an 'inconceivably awful work of impossible angles', which inspired him to put together a collection of the most offensive attempts at art. Among the 400 grimace-worthy pieces – 40 of which are on show at a time – is 'Charlie and Sheba' (pictured above). It's credited to anonymous – hardly surprising.
An homage to the culinary emblem of Germany's capital city – the currywurst, or curried sausage – the German Currywurst Museum features an interactive exhibition that takes visitors on a tour of discovery. In the Spice Chamber, sniffing stations reveal the secrets of the perfect currywurst recipe and visitors can even run their own snack bar. Then, when work is over, a sausage sofa sits invitingly in a stream of sauce (pictured above) And, of course, the Snack Lounge serves currywurst in all its forms.
If you thought you were about to enter a museum dedicated to the history of hair accessories, wigs and electrical appliances such as straighteners and curling tongs, then think again. Leila's Hair Museum in the town of Independence – and some might find this freaky – is actually home to wreaths and jewellery made with human hair. Leila Cohoon has collected 159 wreaths – many in their original frames – and 2,000 pieces of jewellery that were typical family mementos from 1725-1900.
Think parasite and most of us are flooded with images of intestinal worms or malarial mosquitoes, but the Meguro Parasitological Museum celebrates the 'wondrous and resourceful way of life' of these fascinating creatures. With 300 preserved specimens, the museum offers an overview of the world of parasites and their life cycles in an attempt to transform the visitor's preconceptions and to shed their feelings of fear – much as many parasites shed no-longer-needed organs and transform themselves into lovable creatures such as tapeworms. Eeugh!
Incarceration might seem a strange theme for a visitor attraction, but the Texas Prison Museum claims to offer an 'intriguing glimpse into the lives of the state's least-loved citizens'. Detailing the history of the Texas prison system – from the viewpoint of both the inmates and the staff – the museum's exhibits include an example of the electric chair (pictured above) and a nickel-plated pistol from the death car of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde.
The Clarks Shoe Museum in Street, Somerset contains a selection of footwear from Roman times to the present. If you're into shoes, buckles and shoemaking machinery, this is the place for you. Admission is free Weird fact: This has such a huge following among Chinese tourists that some Chinese tour operators are considering making the home of Clarks shoes a key feature on their itineraries.
Some of us might be old enough to remember the joy of school dinners when it was the day for SPAM fritters – slices of tinned luncheon meat, battered, fried and squeaky on the teeth. But those who haven't had the pleasure should head to the SPAM Museum at the home of the Hormel Foods Corporation, which offers 16,500 square feet of interactive and educational exhibits, relating the product's history – from the role of SPAM Classic in World War Two to delicious modern-day recipes.
There are many reasons for being thankful for not being born in medieval times, but if one needed any more, then a visit to the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments in Prague should do the trick. More than 60 exhibits – including the nail-embedded Torture Chair – graphically illustrate the widely practised torture of heretics, witches, state enemies... perhaps even those who sneezed in the wrong manner. Not for the weak-stomached.
As a nation of lawn lovers, it is no surprise that we Brits have proudly dedicated more than one museum to that most revered of trimming machines, the lawnmower. The British Lawnmower Museum is internationally renowned as an authority on vintage models and is run by Brian Radam, an ex-racing driver of – yep – lawnmowers. The museum charts the history of the lawnmower from its inception in 1830 – as a spin-off from an invention to trim the nap from cloth.
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