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Hammerfest, Norway

Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society

This one-room museum is dedicated to Norwegian history and jokes. 

The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society (known in Norwegian as the Isbjørnklubben) is neither royal nor ancient, but their love of local history is definitely no joke.

This museum started in 1963 by a couple of enterprising locals, is dedicated to remembering life in the small Norwegian town of Hammerfest, in ages gone by. The town, which claims to be the Northernmost city in all the world, was granted an official coat of arms which featured a polar bear on a field of red, and ever since the arctic ursine has been the town’s official symbol. The museum itself features taxidermied animals and artifacts dating back to the 17th century in its single room for visitors to feel and understand the history of the local people. The museum does not charge admission, but they suggest that visitors simply purchase official membership into the royal society which comes with a welcoming pack featuring a unique polar bear pin. For even a bit more money, one can get the deluxe membership and will be “knighted” with a walrus penis.

Whether a full member of the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society or just a guest of the museum, visitors are not likely to find a more tongue-in-cheek collection this far North of the equator.