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Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Mr. Marvel's Wondertorium

A museum of the dime museum that features weird entertainments of yesteryear, from feejee mermaids to flea circuses. 

Step right up and allow Mr. Marvel to take you on a tour of his Wondertorium, where unbelievable sights are sure to wow you just as much as they did the Victorians.

Dime museums were 19th century storefront operations filled with rare curiosities for the common people. Initially they were seen as educational cabinets of curiosity for those who couldn’t afford entry into the Field Museum or the V&A. As they grew more popular, the wonders that could be seen for 10 cents tended toward fakery. This didn’t deter people from going though—they were entertained by the absurd oddities like feejee mermaids and flea circuses. The dime museum was a carnival in miniature, and even featured vaudeville and freak shows. 

Mr. Marvel’s Wondertorium is both a dime museum filled with oddities, and a museum of the dime museum. Owned by a pair of sideshow performers, the Wondertorium offers a face-to-face history of lowbrow Victorian-style entertainments out of the the old Landry Funeral Home.

The museum’s exhibits fall into the categories of freaks of nature, gaffs (fakes), miscellaneous oddities, as well as genuine historical and biological items. Some of the highlights include the “Mexican walking fish” (an axolotl), a two-headed turtle, miniatures carved into pencil lead, Marcos the Headless Chicken, Wooly Mammoth teeth, a teddy bear made out of belly button lint, and a Sasquatch footprint that you can step into. It’s also the only public facility in the world to have Simandoa cave roaches on display.

As was typical of the dime museums of old, there are live performances to cap off the experience. Acts in the sideshow range all the classics, including fire eating, glass walking, contortion, and magic. 

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