Nightmare Fuel: 8 of the Creepiest Objects from Museums

Fact: Beneath the veneer of fancy art and snooty marble, museums are just warehouses of horror teeming with creepy junk. Paintings of demons tormenting lost souls somehow get a pass for being religious? Mummies are straight-up dead people! And that baby-doll thing? That hellish piece of garbage is in a museum.

Now, we don’t mind—it gives us cool fodder for our Art of Darkness Scavenger Hunts come Halloween time. But still, it boggles the mind that some of this stuff is on display for the unsuspecting public to look upon. Luckily we’re here to prepare you (or at least traumatize you in advance). Here are eight of our favorite creepiest objects from museums around the country.

1. Terror Machine

This robot baby doll creeps us out and literally creeps. The only thing worse is that it was the patent model, meaning it was just the prototype from which some creepy creep could make more of these creepy creeps.  [Creeping Baby Doll Patent Model, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.]

2. Time to Go Vegetarian

Watson Adventures Creepy Art at Museums

Just a sliced-open cow and a dog licking up the blood. Not creepy at all.  [Butcher Shop, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]

3. Why? Just, Why?

Watson Adventures Creepy Art at Museums

Who sees a moldy head in the guillotine basket and thinks, “Sacre bleu, this is the good stuff”? Gross.  [Head of a Guillotined Man, Art Institute of Chicago]

4. Speaking of Severed Heads…

Watson Adventures Creepy Art at Museums

OK, now this guy’s low-key creepy. At a glance, he looks like a cute little guy who wants to hang on your wall, innocently smiling. Read closer, though, and it turns out he’s a cute little guy who wants to hang on your wall, displaying the skulls of your fallen enemies. And smiling.  [Skull Hook, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC]

5. What the Devil?

Watson Adventures Creepy Art at Museums

Gyah! Questionable home furnishings strike again. This should be hidden deep inside a forgotten temple with an evil spirit trapped inside, not plopped on an end table with what looks like room for a single flower sticking out the top.  [Devil Face Jug, Philadelphia Museum of Art]

6. Love the Skin You’re In

Watson Adventures Creepy Art at Museums

No matter whose skin it is. Or was. Yikes.  [Ritual Impersonator of the Deity Xipe Totec, Art Institute of Chicago]

7. At Least This One Isn’t Human Skin…

This headdress at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco? Oh heck no. Nope! No way. Nuh-uh, no thank you. Nah.  [Headdress, Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco]

8. Thought You’d Get Outta Here Without a Creepy Clown?

If we have to see this stuff, you do. And a picture doesn’t so this one justice.  [Clown Illusionist, Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey]

For More Creepy Stuff…

And plenty of beautiful, not-at-all-terrifying art, join a Watson Adventures scavenger hunt. For more information, check out our public hunts in seven cities around the country, or ask us about private events.