A museum in the UK has thrown down the gauntlet, asking other curators to unearth their "creepiest object"

In response to the coronavirus, museums of the world have been opening their virtual doors to the public for free. Online video shows and digital galleries have helped make the cultural treasures available while public spaces are closed for social distancing.

However, some artifacts might be better off behind closed doors.

Last Friday, The Yorkshire Museum tweeted a picture of a roman scalp which was accompanied by a challenge to other curators to reveal their oddest and most alarming exhibits.


The matted ball of hair was reportedly removed from "the burial of a Roman lady", with pins still fixing it in place 1700 years later. Ew!

Since then, thousands of museums around the world have accepted the challenge.

Even Te Papa has contributed the head of a mummified moa, which they thought "fitted the bill!"

However, just north across the border in Edinburgh, the National Museums Scotland responded with a curious piece of taxidermy. The "Mermaid" is an alarming piece of questionable origin that possesses the front of a monkey and the hind of a fish. The macabre object was possibly from the south Pacific was part wrasse and part sculpted using fish's jaw bone.

"Okay, I'm not sleeping tonight," was the response from the Yorkshire Museum twitter account.

Since Friday, the challenge has only grown in number and strangeness with contributions from Europe, Asia and North America.

In Berlin the Deutsches Historisches Museum had a particularly timely object: the mask of a plague doctor. The spooky headgear, with a beak-like pouch came from the late 1600s.

The current pandemic has not been kind to museums and curators. The Yorkshire Museum which began the challenge said that it has lost 70 per cent of its income, which comes from admissions. As part of a larger trust which runs several other visitor museums in the UK county, the dire situation facing the collections is clear.


Lee Clark the communications manager says their creepy object thread gained over 10,000 over the weekend and can help raise awareness for their Museums from Home project, where the public are invited to get involved with online projects and donate to keep the collections running.

Objects from other museums' creepy and questionable back-catalogues include the severed head of Peter Kurten – aka the Dusseldorf Vampire. "You can fang us later for the nightmares!" said Ripley's 'Believe it or Not' museum.

One museum worker nominated a set of amputated frost-bitten fingers which now reside in the National Army Museum in London.

Keeping things anatomical, museum worker Catherine McGuinness put forward the Oldcroghan Man from the National Museum of Ireland. All that's left of him is a torso and bizarrely leathery arms preserved in peat.

Fellow Yorkshire establishment, the York Art Gallery put their best foot forward with a sculpture made from the severed lower leg of Kerry Jameson.

While no one object might outdo another for sheer creepiness, there's an undeniable density of odd and unnerving artifacts in Yorkshire.

You have to give a round of applause to the Whitby Museum in north Yorkshire for their contribution.

The "Hand of glory" which is a candle made from the dried and pickled limb of an executed convict, and appears in Harry Potter among other famous works of fiction. The hand however is decidedly real and revolting.