X

10 spookiest items at the National Museum of American History (pictures)

The National Museum of American History is digging into the archives and unearthing a few of its favorite creepy finds.

james-martin-bio
james-martin-bio

James Martin

See full bio

6a00e553a80e108834019b00385e39970b-800wi.jpg
1 of 10 National Museum of American History

Stop-motion Scraps

American history, from war to politics, is filled with frightening moments. As Halloween approaches, the National Museum of American History is digging into the archives and unearthing a few of its favorite creepy finds from a collection of more than 3 million museum artifacts.
The stop-motion puppet Scraps, created by Graham G. Maiden for the 2005 film "Corpse Bride," is a memorable creature from the quirky and macabre world of Tim Burton.
6a00e553a80e108834019b00648c4a970b-800wi.jpg
2 of 10 National Museum of American History

Eerie photography

Two children are seen in this eerie illustration, which seamlessly blends sweet, innocent childhood with the darkness of death.
6a00e553a80e108834019b003865d6970b-800wi.jpg
3 of 10 National Museum of American History

Natural Creeping Baby Doll

This 1871 patent model for the "Natural Creeping Baby Doll" accompanied George Pemberton Clarke's patent submission for a moving baby doll. The doll's head, arms, and legs are made of plaster and hinged to a brass clockwork body that imitates crawling by rolling along on two toothed wheels.
A blank stare and cold mechanics make this baby anything but natural. If anything, it's downright frightening.
6a00e553a80e108834019b0038b8f7970d-800wi.jpg
4 of 10 National Museum of American History

The vulture

The origin of this carved Elk-horn cane handle -- which doubles as a pipe -- is unknown.
6a00e553a80e108834019b00384615970c-800wi.jpg
5 of 10 National Museum of American History

Wreath of hair

Similar to knitting or crocheting, hairwork was popular in Victorian times. This decorative wreath is made entirely of hair. People would trade hair with friends, keep it as tokens or mementos of deceased loved ones, or display locks as remembrances.
6a00e553a80e108834019b00385382970c-800wi.jpg
6 of 10 National Museum of American History

Gremlins!

This monstrous green model of a gremlin was used in the 1990 live-action, horror-comedy film "Gremlins 2: The New Batch," directed by Joe Dante.
6a00e553a80e108834019b00384b4f970c-800wi.jpg
7 of 10 National Museum of American History

Weird winkers

Clocks like this, called winkers, enjoyed popularity in the 1860s and 1870s. This one, in particular, disturbed the National Museum of American History staffers, who cited the "jolly belly, the lifeless eyes (designed to blink), and the oddly serious facial expression."
6a00e553a80e108834019b00385b45970c-800wi.jpg
8 of 10 National Museum of American History

Miss Estelle the Long-Haired Queen

"Miss Estelle the Long-Haired Queen" was a circus and sideshow performer. Traveling festivals were popular around the turn of the century. Visitors would pay to take a peek behind the curtains, where people with quite unusual features were showcased as freaks. Long hair, extreme strength, and missing limbs were common sideshow draws.
6a00e553a80e108834019b00384f43970c-800wi.jpg
9 of 10 National Museum of American History

Automaton of a friar

This automaton of a friar, which seems as if it might spring to life, can imitate a walking man, thanks to a wind-up mechanism that also makes it creepily robotic. Beady eyes move from side to side, while one arm raises a rosary cross for an automated kiss and the other arm strikes the chest in the "mea culpa" gesture from the Catholic Latin Mass.
This friar was probably made in Spain or Germany and is about 450 years old.
6a00e553a80e108834019b003861fa970b-800wi.jpg
10 of 10 National Museum of American History

Jack-o'-lantern bulb

Hal Wallace, associate curator in the Division of Work and Industry at the National Museum of American History, says this decorative Halloween lightbulb was made by General Electric in the 1970s and 1980s. The jack-o'-lantern design is made even stranger as it is printed in such a way that it works whether the bulb is installed base-up or base-down.

More Galleries

2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

More Galleries

2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

93 Photos
Rolls-Royce's Second Boat Tail Is Brown and Beautiful

More Galleries

Rolls-Royce's Second Boat Tail Is Brown and Beautiful

62 Photos
The 40 Best Games on Nintendo Switch

More Galleries

The 40 Best Games on Nintendo Switch

41 Photos
Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

More Galleries

Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

80 Photos
'Stranger Things' Stars Now and Then: Wow, They've Really Grown Up

More Galleries

'Stranger Things' Stars Now and Then: Wow, They've Really Grown Up

40 Photos
2023 Genesis GV60 Is a Futuristic EV

More Galleries

2023 Genesis GV60 Is a Futuristic EV

53 Photos
2022 Acura MDX Type S Blends Sharp Style and Strong Power

More Galleries

2022 Acura MDX Type S Blends Sharp Style and Strong Power

34 Photos