U is for Unusual Collections Museum


Today Diana again takes over as our tour guide!  Diana is a nerd, a bookworm, a feminist, and a social media junkie. She is a freelance writer and researcher and the administrator of the blog Part-Time Monster. You can follow her on Twitter @parttimemonster or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/parttimemonster. She lives in New Orleans with her son, her husband, and one very energetic terrier.

I love a museum. Of any sort. Art, natural history, science, war, maritime…It doesn’t matter much to me. I love walking through a collection, looking at curiosities and learning about their histories. But the museums I love the most are, much like the people I love the most, the odd ones. The ones that make me ask questions. The ones that invite speculation. There are quite a few of those sorts of museums in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, as you might imagine. But perhaps my favorite little roadside museum (shh, don’t tell the others!) is the Abita Mystery House.

 You’ll find the Mystery House in Abita Springs, which is a short trip–about an hour of driving time–from New Orleans, though you’ll have to travel over the Causeway, a 20+ mile-long bridge that crosses Lake Pontchartrain. (Worth nothing: There seems to be some controversy about it, but I’m told this is the world’s longest continuous stretch of bridge-over-water. Also worth noting: the southbound part of the causeway is a toll-bridge, and you’ll need cash for the return!) Even from a bridge-phobic like me, the drive and the $3 admission fee to the museum are well worth the trouble.
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The Abita Mystery House–also known as the Unusual Collections Museum–is run by John Preble, a local artist who was inspired by the Tinkertown Museum in New Mexico. The little museum has thousands of objects inside, collections of collections–found objects, home-made inventions, and folk art. The Mystery House is actually not just one building but several, including an exhibition hall full of interactive dioramas and quarter-operated machines (so bring some change!); an old trailer fashioned into a UFO crash site; a vintage gas station; and the House of Shards, named for the colorful tile pieces that make up its mosaic-style walls.
There’s just so much to look at!
But perhaps my favorite parts of the UCM are the gaffs and taxidermy—especially Darrell the Dogigator.

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