From primitive bone saws to early X-ray machines, sights at The Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry in Ann Arbor will make your teeth hurt and inspire deep gratitude for dental advances since the 1800s.

One of the only dental museums in the world, it displays 860 artifacts. Faded packages of Novocain, cruel-looking tooth extractors and sophisticated drills tell the story of dentistry’s evolution.

Tucked into a dental school building at the University of Michigan, it is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. The price is easy to swallow (free).

Kellogg Institute, 1011 N. University-G565, 734-763-0767,

Inspired by this offbeat Michigan museum? Check out these other ones as well:

Bottle House Museum

In 1941 in the village of Kaleva, John J. Makinen used 60,000 colored glass pop bottles to build a weirdly intriguing house—creating exterior walls with the flat bottom of the bottles facing out. The house in Manistee County now is a museum and on the National Register of Historic Places. Other incongruous features include a display of fishing lures and an authentic Finnish sauna.

It’s open weekends noon to 4 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day, then Saturdays noon to 4 p.m. through October. Free.

14551 Wouksi, 231-362-2487,

Nun Doll Museum

There’s a reverently strange museum at the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River. More than 500 dolls and mannequins dressed in the habits of various religious orders stare at you with a thousand eyes as you pass by.

Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily in summer and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily in winter. Free.

7078 M-68, 231-238-8973,

Pickle Barrel House Museum

This adorable mini museum has a sweet and sour history. Built in 1926 as a summer cottage for a Chicago illustrator, the barrel-shaped house was moved to Grand Marais in 1937 from nearby Sable Lake. The quirky museum is surrounded by an elaborate iris garden.

Open weekends 1 to 4 p.m. in June and September and daily 1 to 4 p.m. in July and August. Donations accepted.  

Corner of Lake and Randolph streets, 906-494-2404,

Enjoying the weirdness? Here are three other bonus offbeat Michigan museums:

Cell Block 7 Prison Museum, Jackson: Phenomenal tour inside old prison walls.

Knowlton’s Ice Museum, Port Huron: The history of ice cutting and delivery.

Montrose Historical and Telephone Pioneer Museum: Charms of a pre-cell phone world.

Photo credit: Tom Kozak (left), Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry (top right), Manistee County Visitor’s Bureau (bottom right)


Ellen Creager lives in metro Detroit and writes about Michigan travel destinations and other cultural topics. She is author of a new four-book series, “One Nation For All: Immigrants in the United States.”

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