This West Coast Museum Is Perfectly Morbid For Any Dark Tourism Bucket List

The following article includes descriptions of torture.

Los Angeles and sunshine go hand in hand. By the same token, the city has a reputation for being glamorous and ideal; think palm trees, wealth, and celebrities. However, Los Angeles is also a hot spot for dark tourism. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Hollywood. The iconic moviemaking neighborhood has several off-the-beaten-path attractions for your next trip to Los Angeles, including the Museum of Death, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and the Medieval Torture Museum.

Located on Hollywood Boulevard, the Medieval Torture Museum is situated on the Hollywood Walk of Fame across from the Guinness World Records Museum. While museums centered on torture and crime are commonplace in Europe, in America, not so much. Per the attraction's website, this is the first museum of its kind in the country.

In fact, LA's Medieval Torture Museum is one of three, with the other two in Chicago, Illinois, and St. Augustine, Florida. In LA, visitors enter through the museum's quirky gift shop and are then led down a flight of stairs into a basement-like structure. There, they begin a macabre journey into the past, learning about the torment and punishment endured by the unfortunate.

The Medieval Torture Museum provides a visceral experience

The Medieval Torture Museum features low lighting and sinister background music. This makes visitors feel like they are in a dungeon when, in reality, they are in Hollywood, one of Los Angeles' top tourist destinations. There are eight rooms, all displaying torture devices. In many cases, artwork and hyper-realistic mannequins are used to demonstrate how the device was used to inflict suffering. However, whether these devices are replicas, antiques, or a mix of both is unclear. 

A label next to each device or mannequin provides brief information on the torture method. It typically states the torture method's country of origin, how and why it was used, and more. While most museums encourage you not to touch anything, the same can't be said about the Medieval Torture Museum.

A number of the exhibits are interactive. Take, for example, the Sicilian Bull. This torture method involved placing an individual inside a metal bull that would then be heated over a fire, gruesomely killing them. The Medieval Torture Museum's Sicilian Bull has a pulley that visitors can use to open its abdomen and reveal a mannequin withering in pain. 

The torture methods mentioned at the museum range from extreme to absurd (like gamblers having to wear a chain of wooden playing cards and dice). Likewise, the museum warns that specific torture methods, including the amputation of hands, are still common in certain parts of the world.

What to know before you go to the Medieval Torture Museum

Above all, visitors to the Medieval Torture Museum should be aware that the attraction is extremely graphic. For this reason, it's not recommended for those under 18. Although there is technically no age limit, an adult must accompany minors. Tickets can be purchased online, and at the time of this writing cost $29.99.

The museum is self-guided, and it takes under two hours to explore the exhibits. Thus, if you have time, you can squeeze in another activity. The Medieval Torture Museum has tickets on its website that provide admission to the museum combined with other local attractions, including a Hollywood ghost walk for $48 or a Big Bus Tour of Los Angeles for $69.69.

Note that there is no cell phone service inside the Medieval Torture Museum. However, free WiFi is provided. Visitors are encouraged to download the Torture Museum app on their phone. It includes an audio guide for 56 torture methods mentioned in the exhibits and an interactive ghost-hunting experience. For the latter, visitors use their phone cameras to find ghosts inside the museum. When they do, a description of the spirit pops up on their screen.

The Medieval Torture Museum is open daily at 11 a.m. It closes at 9 p.m. from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, 11 p.m., and Sundays, at 10 p.m. The nearest parking lot is on Ovation Hollywood at 1736 Orange Dr., where the maximum daily rate is $20.