5 most oddball museums
Some of the Mountain State’s museums have some … let’s say … “offbeat” memorabilia.
Here are 5 museums that have a little something you won’t find anywhere else:
1. U.S. Navy Poster Museum
The U.S. Navy Poster Museum in Point Pleasant– which the owners claim is the only museum of its kind in the world– has a collection of original Navy recruitment posters dating back to the years before World War I.
The collection is diverse: one section of the museum is devoted to posters to recruit WAVEs, the all-female force of noncombatants who were integrated into the regular Navy in the 1970s. John Falter created many of the posters; you may recognize his work from several Saturday Evening Post covers in the 1940s. You’ll even find a corner dedicated to Navy pinup girls.
The collection continues all the way to present times, but After World War II, when recruiters relied more on photography and video, painted illustrations declined– thus assuring their place as true collector’s items and works of art.
2. Mothman Museum
In November 1966, the people of Point Pleasant began reporting strange lights in the sky, appearances of mysterious “men in black” and sightings of the red-eyed flying creature who came to be known as Mothman.
Some believe Mothman was linked to the collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967. He was also the focus of a Hollywood movie, “The Mothman Prophecies.”
At the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, you can peruse the vast collection of news clippings and police reports about the sightings, watch a “Search for the Mothman” documentary and see a collection of props and memorabilia from the Richard Gere movie – parts of which were filmed in town.
Double your fun during the annual Mothman Festival, a fun and kitschy celebration for all ages.
3. Archive of the Afterlife: The National Museum of the Paranormal
The Archive of the Afterlife in Moundsville advertises itself as a collection of oddities, paranormal theories and haunted artifacts. You’ll find a wide range of quirky and creepy memorabilia here, including haunted dolls, an embalming table, the death mask of gangster John Dillinger, and a postcard signed by Charles Manson.
Its focus on death and the paranormal ties in with the nearby West Virginia Penitentiary (said to be haunted) and the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex (site of an ancient Indian burial ground).
If you want to learn more about the area’s haunted history, the museum also has Grave City Ghost Walks and private paranormal investigations!
4. Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum
Revisit your childhood at this museum in Wheeling.
At the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum, you’ll find entire rooms devoted to a single subject matter: there’s the Doll Room, with its collection of unique dollhouses, Barbie through the years, and action figures like the Lone Ranger and Star Wars. The Game Room showcases pinball games, shooting galleries, board games and puzzles. And the Transportation Room houses old favorites like Hot Wheels, Matchbox cars and Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. In the Train Room, you’ll find a vast collection of miniature trains by Marx, Lionel and American Flyers, and there are even real railway artifacts.
On the upper floor, don’t miss K-Land, with a miniature K’Nex amusement park that sparkled with more than 8,000 LED lights. You might find yourself wishing you could shrink yourself down to ride these tiny intricate rides!
5. Museum of Radio & Technology
Huntington’s Museum of Radio & Technology appeals to the radio geek and nostalgic in all of us.
Discover the 1920s and 30s Radio Shop with vintage radios, test equipment and parts. Browse the Radio and TV Sales Room from the 1940s-50s era. See the collection of amplifiers, tuners, receivers, turntables and tape recorders in the Vintage Hi-Fi Room. There also are displays devoted to ham and short-wave radios, and an exhibit on military communication equipment.
Don’t miss Huntington’s WV Broadcasting Hall of Fame, dedicated to West Virginians (transplanted or native) like Don Knotts, Bob Denver and Little Jimmy Dickins who made their mark in the entertainment industry on TV and radio. Who will be the next famous West Virginian admitted to the Hall of Fame?
This post was last updated on March 16, 2022