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Austin is a bit strange - but in a good way

Houston and Dallas may be bigger and more famous, but Austin is in fact the capital of Texas. It’s also the least Texan city in Texas. And the weirdest city in the country. This is something its residents take pride in, as evidenced by the Austin motto of Keep Austin Weird! Have a peek inside weird houses or admire a cathedral of junk in a city where there is even a museum devoted entirely to the weird and strange.

From a game of bingo played with chicken droppings at Ginny’s Little Longhorn to running around naked through Hippie Hollow Park and sniffing Marilyn Monroe’s last cigarette butt at the Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata, all this and more can be done legally in Austin. Texas may be located in the southern part of the US, but Austin is a progressive island in an otherwise conservative region. Its residents are outsiders - a status they cherish - as evidenced by these three anything-but-ordinary attractions.

Cathedral of Junk: 60 tonnes of junk © PiercarloAbate
Cathedral of Junk: 60 tonnes of junk © PiercarloAbate

Austin

Museum of the Weird

The weirdest museum in America

What began as a modest private collection in the backroom of a curiosities shop owned by Steve Busti, unexpectedly grew to become nothing less than a Museum of the Weird, with such items on display as a one-eyed pig, two-headed chicken, real mummies, heads in jars and a life-size King Kong. The museum is an ode to the 19th century cabinets of curiosities and freak shows, not to mention the American Museum run by circus baron P.T. Barnum that burned to the ground in 1865. Barnum himself is included in the museum as a wax figure. A live freak show is included in the admission price. Photo: Museum of the Weird

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www.museumoftheweird.com  

Museum of the Weird, 412 East 6th Street, Austin, TX, daily 10 am-12 pm, $12, Google maps

Cathedral of Junk

Another private collection that got out of hand, but of a completely different nature. In 1988, Vince Hannemann began picking up other people’s junk and used it to build a colossal work of art in the shape of a cathedral. An estimated 60 tonnes of junk was used, from surfboards and hula hoops to bicycle tyres and traffic signs - much to the horror of the city and neighbourhood residents, who consider the creative junk church a danger to safety and would prefer that it disappear, but to the great pleasure of its numerous visitors.

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Weird: Cathedral of Junk © PiercarloAbate


Cathedral of Junk, 4422 Lareina Drive, Austin, TX, free admission but no regular opening hours Google maps

Weird: the home of artist Sharon Kopriva

Tour of weird houses

Again, the residents of Austin are a bit strange, but have no desire to hide this fact. On the contrary, they open the doors of their equally weird houses once every year. The Weird Homes Tours is a do-it-yourself tour of ten alternating homes, but always the unusually designed and furnished homes of artists, designers, musicians, collectors, magicians and other creative souls. The tour is now also held in other cities, but Austin boasts the original - and with the weirdest houses. Photo: Davidjneff | Wikipedia

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For the date of the next Weird Homes Tour, see www.weirdhomestour.com/tour/austin 