Napoleon Bonaparte’s hairbrush and vanity set is just one of thousands of bizarre artifacts on display at the Berman Museum of World History. Yes, it’s real. And yes, it’s sitting in the tiny town of Anniston, AL, population 22,666, along with an unbelievable selection of Wild West bronze sculptures by Frederic Remington, Japanese Samurai armor, ancient Siamese and Chinese statues, and, rather creepily, Adolf Hitler’s personal silver tea service. The museum was founded by Farley Berman, an Alabama boy who worked in military intelligence and eventually married a French spy. Farley and his wife, Germaine, shared a passion for collecting unusual relics and did so over the course of four decades.
When asked how he sourced some of his more unorthodox items, Farley would coyly suggest that they made their way home in his WWII bedroll. Others, he said, simply appeared in his house. As you’ll quickly learn browsing the two-story museum, the Bermans were big into antique arms and spy gear. The collection includes screwdriver and pen guns, a poison-coated gravity dagger topped with a metal back scratcher, machine guns from the Spanish-American War, WWII trench bazookas, a modified flute from 1963 that could fire a .22 caliber bullet just by playing the right note, and the Persian scimitar of Abbas I, encrusted with 1,295 diamonds, 50 carats of rubies, a 10-carat emerald, and three pounds of gold. Seeing that alone is worth the $5 admission.
840 Museum Dr., Anniston, AL; 256-237-6261.