Museum of Wonder.
Butch Anthony poses at the Drive-Thru Museum. His 1992 Cadillac is covered with glued-on sports trophies.

Museum of Wonder: Drive-Thru

Field review by the editors.

Seale, Alabama

Drive-thru attractions provide a guilty pleasure on any road trip, tempting travelers to explore everything from a tree to a giant donut to a park full of bears without leaving a motorized vehicle.

Museum of Wonder.
Fox has an ear stuck to the top of its head. Behind, a portrait of John Henry Toney.

Butch Anthony has brought this effortless approach to the world of outsider art with his Museum of Wonder.

Butch has collected curiosities since he was a kid, but didn't become an artist until his early thirties. It happened this way: a friend of his, John Henry Toney, had been plowing Butch's garden when he found a gnarled turnip with what appeared to be a human face. John Henry drew a picture of it, and he and Butch placed it in a local junk shop with a joke price tag of $50. They were shocked when someone bought it.

That was in 1994. Butch, who at the time made a living selling barbecue sandwiches, decided that the discovery of the turnip was a sign. He started making his own art, and turned out to be both prolific and good at it. Less than ten years after the turnip, Butch had become such an art celebrity that he was asked to design Alabama's ornament for the White House Christmas tree.

Museum of Wonder.
Doomed souls flee one of Hell's toothy monsters.

Museum of Wonder.
If you see this man at the Museum of Wonder, he built it.

But popularity posed a problem for Butch, who mostly likes to keep to himself. "I got so many visitors, I couldn't work. I was just talking all the time," he told us. "I thought, durn, I wish I could put a window in here and they could just drive by."

As it turned out, a new four-lane road had just been built a few minutes away from Butch's studio workshop. A local woman phoned Butch after she'd seen him on TV, and during the conversation she mentioned that she had a little piece of land out by the new highway. Butch, sensing that an opportunity had once again presented itself, bought the property from the woman, hauled over some 40-foot-long shipping containers, cut holes in them for windows, and filled them with his quirky wonders and art, creating the world's first drive-thru museum. "I let people self-service," he said.

That was in 2013. Within three years Butch had to repair the ruts in his drive-thru road because so many vehicles were visiting. "I was over there cutting grass one day and, man, there was cars coming through there every five minutes," he said.

Museum of Wonder.
Badabus Motherasaurus has the body of a fish, tiny arms, and a deer skull for a head.

Butch added an Airstream trailer to the shipping containers to display even more wonders, and hitched it to his art-car Cadillac whenever he wanted to take his Museum on the road. The containers and trailer are lit from inside at night, which actually makes it easier to see some of the exhibits. The Museum of Wonder is a 24-hour drive-thru. Even if you're passing by at 3 AM you can visit, when it's just you, Butch's collection, and a lot of country darkness.

The wonders displayed in the drive-thru fall into two categories: Butch's art and the weird stuff that always seems to find a way into Butch's hands. He calls his art Intertwangleism, and it includes everything from freak taxidermy to sculptures made of metal and bones. "What most folks throw away I'll turn into somethin' that people want in New York or London," said Butch. His most recognizable works are old flea market photographs and portraits that he decorates with painted-on skeletons. "Like an x-ray," he said. "They're already kinda spooky-lookin', so I just make them a little more spookier."

We asked Butch if his artistic success had ever tempted him to move someplace cosmopolitan, which Seale, Alabama, definitely is not. "No," answered Butch. "I've been to a lot of different places, but I like it right here."

The stuff that Butch finds, or that finds him, defies definition beyond its weirdness. There's the World's Largest Gallstone, for example. "I bought that at a yard sale," said Butch. "A doctor said he cut it out of some lady in 1971. Big ol' thing." Butch called our attention to several travel-trunks of instructional aids from a 1930s preacher man. They're home-made visions of Hell. "There's little monsters, and devils with pitchforks, pokin' people," said Butch. "He took it to Sunday School classes." Also on display are natural wonders, including, of course, the famous turnip with the human face, crispy with age inside a showcase made from an old oil lamp.

Museum of Wonder.
The Museum is open all night, every night.

Museum of Wonder.
Devils with pitchforks torment a pilloried sinner.

Butch, like any good museum curator, rotates his collection, visiting the drive-thru, he said, once a month to move things around and swap in new displays. Visitors hoping to discern some artistic pattern in his exhibit placement will be disappointed. "Whatever comes out of the back of the truck first, that's where it goes," said Butch. The constant shuffling means that favorite items, such as the turnip, may not be on display when you visit, but also gives travelers an incentive to come back for another look.

Butch cut a slit into the last shipping container where visitors can deposit the Museum's recommended one-dollar donations, as well as any notes they care to leave. He keeps them all. "We came by here all the way from New York City," reads one. "What kind of drugs are you on?" asks another.

"I'm just trying to show you don't have to throw junk out on the side of the road like everybody does. You can turn it into something," said Butch.

"Just get out and always be looking," he added, "'cause you don't never know what's gonna turn up next. You might be pulling up a potato, and it's got a face in it."

Museum of Wonder: Drive-Thru

Museum of Wonder

Address:
970 AL-169, Seale, AL
Directions:
North of town. On the north side of AL-169, just west of its intersection with US Hwy 431.
Hours:
24/7
Admission:
Adults $1.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Memorial to Calculator the DogMemorial to Calculator the Dog, Fort Benning, GA - 13 mi.
National Infantry MuseumNational Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, GA - 13 mi.
National Civil War Naval MuseumNational Civil War Naval Museum, Columbus, GA - 14 mi.
In the region:
Coca Cola Inventor's Grave, Columbus, GA - 15 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Alabama

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Alabama.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

December 15, 2018

My Sights

My Sights

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Alabama Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC (Dec 10-16, 2018)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Nearby Hotels and Motels, Seale, Alabama

Nightly rates found:

Book Online Now