13 SpoOOoky Witchcraft And Magic Museums To Visit
Thematic tourism can be great (it also can be exploitative, which is not so great). Since it’s October, the witchiest, most magical month, we’ve rounded up 13 of the hocus-y pocus-y museums around the world.
1. Museum of Witchcraft, Cornwall, UK
Cornwall is the mother of all witchcraft museums, which we mention by way of asking: who wants to go on a field trip? The museum’s website notes that important events in its history have fallen on Samhain and Hallowe’en. Their Twitter feed is bananas and delightful and the reason that I follow Cornish Folklore. Also the museum was founded by a man named Cecil.
According to the Wikipedia article on the Museum, an anthology about the museum, The Museum of Witchcraft: A Magical History was published in 2011 and reviewed in The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies and now we all are obviously going to go subscribe to The Pomegranate.
2. The American Museum of Magic, Marshall, MI
Academic witches will want to be aware that the museum has a research library (available by appointment only; fees may apply) that “houses a vast collection of books, photographs, and archival materials related to magic and magicians.” They also host a magic camp for kids ages 7–16. Fun fact: One of my sorority sisters was a lifer at magic camp. I still seethe with jealousy at having to go to plain old sleepaway camp.
3. The Witch Dungeon, Salem, MA
To quote mine own self on the matter of the Witch Dungeon in spooky-ooky Salem, Ma. “This is PURE CAMP. But actually pretty well done camp. So really what I’m trying to tell you is that it’s the perfect place. The Witch Dungeon is essentially a two-part experience: in part 1, you’ll be treated to a vignette-style reenactment of the trials featuring live actors. Part 2 takes you down to the dungeon, where things will jump out at you FAIR WARNING. Take a Xanax if you’re easily startled.”
4. Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft, Hólmavík, Iceland
I was unaware that Iceland had such a rich history of sorcery and witchcraft [updates overseas magical tourism travel itinerary].
5. The Warren’s Occult Museum, Monroe, CT
I’m gonna level with you: The website alone has creeped me right the heck out. Are terrifying dolls your thing? Then this is the museum for you! The most terrifying of them all is Annabelle and I’d tell you more about her except no no no no no no no no I cannot handle thinking about it for one more second oh my God here just go read it for yourself.
6. The Paranormal Museum, Asbury Park, NJ
The Paranormal Museum is attached to a bookstore, which automatically makes it awesome. It also features attractions such as a Timeline of the Paranormal, the Jersey Devil (is … that what happened to the Russian?) and “haunted objects” such as A DOLL SWEET GODDESS NO NOT ANOTHER DOLL WHY ARE THERE SO MANY TERRIFYING DOLLS AT THESE PLACES???
7. Museo dei Tarocchi, Riola, Italy
Museo dei Tarocchi, or museum of the tarot, highlights the artistry of tarot decks as well as the history of the cards, which were originally used as playing cards beginning in the mid-15th century. The proprietors, Morena Poltronieri and Ernesto Fazioli, are tarot card publishers (!!!) and also lead tarot art and history tours of Northern Italy (!!!).
8. The Magic Circle Museum, London, UK
The Magic Circle is a professional organization for magicians and illusionists. They host a museum at their headquarters that features “magic tricks, props, posters, programs, toys, photographs and artefacts related to conjuring history.”
9. Musée de la Magie, Paris, France
Located in the cellar space under the Marquis de Sade’s residence, Musée de la Magie offers magic shows as well as exhibits featuring optical illusions, secret boxes, wind-up toys and magic mirrors. Would it be too obvious of me to ask one of those mirrors who’s the fairest one of all?
10. The White Lion Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
The White Lion Inn, a public house built in 1541, is described as “one of the most haunted buildings in the country by the owner” which, hmmmm, the source is suspect I guess I’ll have to head there myself to verify it. Good thing I’ve already got this field trip to Europe planned. The The Witchcraft and Wizardology Museum located near the Inn is “a privately amassed collection of ephemera and articles that reflect on the history of Witchcraft and Wizardology from pre-Christian times to the present day.”
11. Martinka & Co., Midland Park, NJ
Who knew there was so much magic going on in Jersey? This magic supply store and museum — “America’s Oldest Magic Shop” — was once operated by Harry Houdini. In its current iteration, Martinka operates a Magic Auction featuring sale categories such as Collectible Apparatus, New & Used Apparatus, and Ephemera.
12. The History Museum at The Castle, Appleton, WI
Speaking of Houdini! The master magician grew up in Appleton, WI and this museum devoted to the history of the region makes great hay of it, as well they should. You can learn about Houdini’s life, illusions, and premature death at The Castle.
13. Merchant’s House Museum, New York, NY
“Manhattan’s most haunted house,” according to the New York Times, the Merchant’s House offers guided tours, walking tours of the neighborhood, and programming that includes lectures and tastings. In October, the museum offers special “spirited” events such as Candlelight Ghost Tours and an 1865 Funeral Reenactment. Yes and yes please!