10 Weirdest Items in the Smithsonian Institution




Home to over 137 million objects, specimens, and works of art, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. is called "America's attic" for a good reason so, check out some of the strangest items among its vast collection.

16th-Century Mechanical Monk


One of the earliest automatons of all time, the monk can walk around while beating his chest, lifting his cross, and praying silently. Standing 15 inches (38 centimeters) tall, it was made of wood and iron and manufactured by Juanelo Turriano, the mechanician of Emperor Charles V, in the 1560s.

World's Longest Beard


Hans Langseth was born in Norway in 1846. When he died on November 10, 1927, he was an American citizen and had a beard 18-and-a-half feet long.

David Vetter's Bubble Suit


Famously called the "bubble boy" by the media, David Vetter entered a plastic germ-free environment that would be his home for most of his life less than ten seconds after being removed from his mother's womb.

Artificial Heart


student William Sewell, along with his advisor William Glenn, created this heart pump in 1949 using just a child's Erector set motor and other simple materials. The model they presented took over the functions of the heart's right side, moving deoxygenated blood to the lungs. They reported that they had kept dogs alive for up to 90 minutes using their device, without significant changes in blood pressure or oxygen saturation.

Mormon Sunstone


In 1989, the Smithsonianpurchase one of only two known surviving "sunstones" from one of the first temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Adorned with these sunstones, along with moonstones and starstones, the temple's construction was halted after an arson attack in 1848 and a tornado in 1850.

Giant Female Squid


Caught in a fisherman's net off the coast of Spain in 2005, this female Giant Squid was probably 2-3 years old and, when alive, 11 meters (36 feet) long with tentacles that extended 6.7 meters (22 feet). It weighed more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds).

Original Teddy Bear


Did you ever wonder why they call them "Teddy Bears?" US President Theodore (aka "Teddy") Roosevelt made news by refusing to shoot a bear cub on a hunting trip in 1902. Inspired by a political cartoon in the Washington Star depicting Roosevelt with the cub, the Ideal Toy Company created the "Teddy bear." A cuddly alter ego for the macho Roosevelt, the toy instantly became a popular culture icon.

Presidential Hair


The practice of hair preservation used to be quite common, and the Smithsonian has preserved locks of hair from the first 14 US presidents for display, along with hair from other persons of distinction.

Napoleon's Napkin


Emperor Napoleon gave this table napkin to William Bayard on February 26, 1815, the morning Napoleon escaped from his exile on the island of Elba off the coast of Italy. It ended up at the Smithsonian in 1914.

The Saint Augustine Monster


In November of 1896, two young boys became famous after they found the "St. Augustine Monster" on Anastasia Island in Florida. Originally postulated to be the remains of a gigantic octopus, it is one of the earliest recorded examples of a "globster," an unidentified organic mass. Recent analysis concludes that the St. Augustine Monster was a large mass of a collagenous matrix of whale blubber, likely from a sperm whale.



 
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