Pardoned Turkeys and Voodoo Dolls: Visit These Offbeat Treasures for Free on Museum Day This Saturday

They’re all part of the 100-plus museums that will be free on September 26

(Image courtesy of Flickr user Jennifer Boyer)

On September 26, over 1400 museums across the country will open their doors for free in celebration of Museum Day, the annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine. 2015 will mark the 11th year of the event. In 2014, over 400,000 people participated at museums from Puerto Rico to Alaska — a number that is expected to increase this year.

But Museum Day isn’t just about free admission: Many participating institutions will offer special programs and up-close looks at their most unique artifacts and collections. From pardoned turkeys to handcrafted voodoo dolls, here are ten of the most unusual artifacts, exhibits and programs that visitors can enjoy on Museum Day:

The Pardoned Turkeys at Morven Park: Leesburg, VA

Ever wonder what happens to the turkeys pardoned by presidents? Some live here on a 1,000-acre historic property once belonging to Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis. In 2013 and 2014, Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia, was chosen as the recipient of that year’s pardoned turkeys — a Thanksgiving tradition that dates back to President Lincoln.

At Morven Park, the turkeys spared from Thanksgiving dinner tables are well taken care of. They have access to modern amenities, like heaters in winter and fans in the summer. While two of the original four turkeys have died, 2013’s Carmel and 2014’s Cheese (formerly paired with Mac) live on, gobbling at visitors and waiting for a new pen mate later this year. 

About Matt Blitz

Matt Blitz is a history and travel writer. His work has been featured on CNN, Atlas Obscura, Curbed, Nickelodeon, and Today I Found Out. He also runs the Obscura Society DC and is a big fan of diners.

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