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Malacca, Malaysia

Museum of Beauty

Self-mutilation in the name of beauty. 

While the city center of Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the People’s Museum is tucked in an unassuming building off the main square.

Four autonomous collections comprise the People’s Museum: The central People’s Museum focuses on the history of the state of Malacca; the Governor’s Gallery displays the governor’s personal collection of paintings and visual art; and the Kite Museum offers traditional Malaysian kite making and flying.

It is on the third floor that on finds the most curious exhibit, the “Enduring Beauty Museum.” The museum exhibits cultural and historical variations in the understanding of beauty. With displays on foot binding, tattooing, stretching lips, corseting and shaping oval heads, the museum makes stilettos seem perfectly reasonable.

It costs about 50 cents for an adult, but beware the building is not air conditioned and can get quite hot.