A character is going about their business until — what's this? Someone is trying to get them into a museum! And no, they're not trying to get them to visit the museum. They're trying to make them exhibits.
Maybe the character was mistaken for a caveman or something. Maybe they're the last of a rare species or race. Or maybe they're just being tortured for the heck of it. Either way, the result is the same: there's a living person behind a glass wall in a museum.
It's also possible for a character to make themselves a museum exhibit, generally by disguising themselves.
- At the start of Restoration (1995), Dr Merival is shown a man with an exposed heart due to a chest injury. He later visits a room of scientific curios kept by the King, and is dumbfounded to see the same man sitting on a chair as one of the exhibits.
- In The Mote in God's Eye, the Moties take some of the visiting humans on a tour of one of their museums. In addition to replicating entire habitats, there's also a caste of non-sapient Moties. It turns out their purpose is a hint towards what the Moties are keeping secret as they are called Meats.
- Doctor Who: In "The Space Museum", the TARDIS 'jumps a time track' and the Doctor and his companions find themselves in the eponymous museum and at some point in the future where they have become exhibits.
- One episode of Lois & Clark had two bored millionaires who planned to put Superman in their private collection of rare items.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys" has a man kidnap Data with the intention of housing him in a private collection.
- Some of the artifacts in Warehouse 13 harbor the spirits of living beings, notably Lewis Carroll's mirror holding the spirit of Alice Liddell. The Bronze Section contains people trapped in aware suspended animation as punishment for past misdeeds.
- BIONICLE: The Archives in Onu-Metru is an underground museum built for the main purpose of preserving and studying all known Rahi species. It was mentioned that in a disk dueling incident, a Matoran was transformed by a Reconstitute at Random disk into something so grotesque that he nearly ended up on exhibition as a Rahi in the Archives.
- The bio of the GoGo's Crazy Bones character Artix, from the franchise's "Explorer" series, states that he visits museums and pretends to be a statue so that visitors will see him as an exhibit.
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, H. T. Parnell's museum in Tarant is home to Gar, the world's smartest orc. He sold himself to Parnell as an indentured servant in exchange for Parnell saving his family from poverty, and works off the debt by performing as a "freakshow" exhibit, impressing visitors to the museum with his above average (by orc standards) knowledge.
- Purno de Purno had an episode where Purno and his friends visited a museum showcasing various kinds of humans. One of them gets away, leading Purno and the gang to a prehistoric Lost World where cavemen put them in a museum as exhibits.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Atlantis Squarepantis" ended with Plankton being shown as an exhibit in the Atlanteans' museum to replace the World's Oldest Bubble, which SpongeBob and Patrick had accidentally popped earlier.
- In the What A Cartoon! Show episode "Stranger Things", a clumsy robot plays with "the most dangerous thing on earth" (a Banana Peel). When he superiors see all the damage he had done over the course of the film, they declare him the new most dangerous weapon and put him on display.
- Superman: The Animated Series: In the episode "The Main Man", an alien known as the Preserver keeps endangered aliens in his zoo, in which he hired Lobo to capture Superman. The Preserver also betrayed Lobo since he knew all along that he is also endangered (by his own volition) but the two escaped and defeated him. Superman took his zoo and placed them in the Fortress of Solitude.
- Played with in the Regular Show episode "The Night Owl". Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man, and High Five Ghost are all frozen in liquid nitrogen for a few thousand years by an evil radio DJ, who has a convoluted plan to build a museum exhibit around them so that he can become rich and powerful. But eventually, all four of them are unfrozen and try to escape via Time Machine.