5 of the quirkiest museums you can visit in Texas

Santa Claus Museum
Santa Claus Museum (Santa Claus Museum)

From Santa Claus figurines to toilet seats, unusual sights abound at these quirky Texas museums.

Here are some of the Lone Star State’s most unusual, eclectic and wacky curated attractions.

Santa Claus Museum, Columbus

Santa Claus Museum (Santa Claus Museum)

A Russian nesting doll, a wine bottle, a music box, a PEZ dispenser, a jigsaw puzzle, a vintage cooking mold -- What do all these objects have in common? Usually, not much. But at the Santa Claus Museum in Columbus, Texas all these items depict the jovial, white-bearded bearer of gifts in some shape, form or fashion.

Nearly 3,000 Santa figurines and Santa-inspired pieces deck the halls at this holly-jolly attraction dubbed the “only Santa museum in the South.”

The museum houses three major Claus-themed collections comprising “almost 3,000 Santas including figurines, music boxes, dolls, dishes, ornaments, artwork, needlework, and photos from all over the world,” according to the institution’s website.

The museum is just one of two such museums in the nation devoted to all-things Kris Kringle. The other is located in Santa Claus, Indiana.

The Father Christmas-themed museum at 604 Washington St. in Columbus operates Fridays and Saturdays in December. After December, the Christmas-obsessed can visit the museum only if they arrange an appointment in advance.

During December admission is free. Admission is $5 per person January through November.

For additional information, visit SantaMuseum.org.

National Museum of Funeral History, Houston

Ghana Fantasy Coffins exhibit (Courtesy of the National Museum of Funeral History)

Do you have a preoccupation with death? Or are you just kind of curious to learn what happens once you die? Take a trip to one of Houston’s most eclectic museums -- the National Museum of Funeral History.

Here you’ll learn about historical mourning traditions, embalming techniques and the difference between a coffin and a casket, among other things. The exhibits, spread out over 30,500-plus square feet, offer a little something for everyone. Color yourself a car-lover? Admire the museum’s collection of historical hearses, which run the gamut from horse-drawn funeral carriages of the 19th century to the hearses used in the funeral of Grace Kelly and the state funeral services of U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford. A little celebrity obsessed? Take a stroll through the Thanks for the Memories exhibit, a collection of celebrity memorial cards and funeral programs from the services of Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Frank Sinatra, Jim Henson, Whitney Houston, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne and others. Fancy yourself a history buff? Don’t miss the presidential funeral displays, which include an authentic bill from President George Washington’s funeral, the original eternal flame from President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery and even a lock of President Abraham Lincoln’s hair.

Oh, yeah, we almost forgot to mention it but those who subscribe to the supernatural say the museum is the site of some spooky activity.

The National Museum of Funeral History is located at 415 Barren Springs Drive, (281) 876-3063. For more information visit nmfh.org.

Gone With The Wind Remembered Museum, Cleburne

Gone With the Wind Remembered Museum (Gone With the Wind Remembered Museum)

Color yourself a “Windy” (an ardent fan of Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel “Gone With the Wind”)? If you answered yes, we’ve got a museum suggestion right up your alley -- The Gone With the Wind Remembered Museum. Located in Cleburne, TX, the museum contains a comprehensive and extensive collection of GWTW memorabilia.

The collection started with the Scarlett O’Hara doll that museum owner Vicky Lynn Rogers purchased back in high school, shortly after she read the book. The collection grew from there. Now, she has more than 6,000 items. There are dozens of copies of the book in several languages, a movie seat from the Atlanta theater where the movie premiered in 1939, tickets from the event, a number of displays featuring signatures from cast members, and even a telegram from Vivien Leigh. She has a professionally commissioned replica of the gown Vivien Leigh wore as Scarlett O’Hara in the famous “Twelve Oaks barbecue scene” and even a replica of Scarlett O’Hara’s wedding dress, which was marketed and sold in 1940.

The museum operates 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Friday. General admission is $10 per person, $7 for seniors and $5 for children. For more information, visit gwtwremembered.com.

Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum, The Colony

Looking for something odd, off-beat, kind of quirky? Color yourself an auteur of the odd? Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum consists of, well, a collection of toilet seats. The museum’s namesake, Barney Smith, created over 1400 art pieces out of toilet seats over the course of several decades. Smith opened the original museum in 1992 in a large garage behind his San Antonio home. Come retirement, Smith passed his commode collection on to the folks at the Truck Yard, a beer garden located in The Colony. There, Smith’s eclectic work remains on display.

The collection is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. For additional information, visit truckyardthecolony.com.

The Munster Mansion, Waxahachie

Munster Mansion (Munster Mansion Facebook)

Waxahachie residents Sandra and Charles McKee took their mutual love for the popular 60′s sitcom show “The Munsters” to an entirely different level. The pair built a life-size replica of the The Munster home, painstakingly recreating the fictional abode room by room by watching and re-watching footage from the show.

" Many pieces in the house are from the show or exact matches of items from the show. It was a challenging project, as there were no plans or blueprints to go by,” the couple stated on their website. “The house was completely designed by the use of the show footage. Living in the Munster Mansion is a dream come true for us.”

A tour of the private residence costs $120 and includes admission for up to four people. Each additional guest will be charged $30.

Looking for a more immersive experience? Wach month, the couple hotsts a murder mystery night for 10 guests. The Murder Mystery experience costs $110 per guest and includes a tour of the mansion, drinks and a night packed with murder mystery madness. All participants must be at least 21 years old.

For additional information, visit munstermansion.com.

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.