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10 Unique New York City Museums to Visit Now

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|by Mark Robinson |


Experience everything from art to aircrafts in Manhattan

New York City is just full of museums waiting to be explored, investigated and enjoyed. Many of the biggies, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Natural History and the Whitney Museum of American Art are iconic for their significant presences. As wonderful as these oft-visited places are, there are scads of other museums in the Big Apple that you may not have thought about visiting, but should definitely put on your radar. Here are 10 unique ones to check out this spring.

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum sits on the Hudson in NYC (Photo: iStock)

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum sits on the Hudson in NYC (Photo: iStock)

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Learning and discovery while shipboard makes the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum at Pier 86, W. 46th Street one of the city’s most unique museum experiences. An American military and maritime museum, the establishment showcases the U.S.S. Intrepid, an aircraft carrier, the cruise missile submarine U.S.S. Growler and a Concorde S.S.T., not to mention the Space Shuttle Enterprise. For those who are fascinated with military history and the technology of our wartime machines, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum offers a regal majesty and some fascinating learning on the banks of the Hudson River.

Houdini Museum
At one point in history, magician and escape artist Harry Houdini was one of the world’s biggest celebrities. His illusions and feats of derring-do have ensured that his legacy will live on always as one of New York City’s historically iconic celebrities. Ensconced inside the establishment of retail magic manufacturer Fantasma Magic, The Houdini Museum can be found at 213 W. 35th Street, Suite 401. Inside, guests will see a collection of props from some of Houdini’s clever escapes, as well as learn about the history behind this remarkable man. 

The Morgan Library and Museum
Located at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, is the historic and hauntingly beautiful Morgan Library and Museum. Initially founded to house the private library of financier and banker J. P. Morgan, the library now serves as a collection of historic books and music, including medieval illuminated manuscripts and artworks, including the Stavelot Triptych and the metalwork covers of the Lindau Gospels. The library’s architecture itself is also something to behold, with its façade of Tennessee marble and its Palladian arch entrance guarded by sculptures of two lionesses.

The National Museum of Mathematics
The importance of numbers and the roles they play in our day-to-day world, not to mention the patterns and structure they bring to almost everything that surrounds us, are all given their due at The National Museum of Mathematics. Found at 11 East 26th Street, the institution features exhibits, galleries and programs catering to the numerically curious. Suited to engage people of all ages, it all “adds up” to be an unconventional museum outing for the whole family.

The Museum of Sex
If the one-plus-one-equals-two equation of the Museum of Math doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the one-plus-one titillation of the Museum of Sex will have more of an allure. Found at 233 5th Avenue, The Museum of Sex chronicles and celebrates the history and evolution of sex, as well as its cultural significance. Not exactly a destination for a family with children, but an intriguing and fascinating excursion for the mature adult who enjoys thoughtfully curated exhibits on one of humanity’s most essential and beloved pastimes.

Museum of the American Gangster
At 80 St. Mark’s Place one can find, just upstairs from a former speakeasy, The Museum of the American Gangster. The exhibition was founded to preserve memorabilia (including photographs and newspaper articles) of the Prohibition Era. Among the more interesting items to be found in the museum: bullets from the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and John Dillinger’s death masks. The museum’s locale also has its historical significance, set in a neighborhood that once saw the likes of Al Capone and John Gotti walking its streets.

American Folk Art Museum
Defining itself as “the premiere collection” of its genre, The American Folk Art Museum is a collection that holds over 8,000 objects of traditional American folk art, as well as the work of contemporary artists who celebrate and work in that style. Drawings, painting, textiles, ceramics, furniture and a wide array of other items make up this homespun-inspired accumulation. The American Folk Art Museum can be found 2 Lincoln Square in NYC, a stone’s throw from Lincoln Center.

The Dykman Farmhouse Museum
Looking at Manhattan today, it is hard to believe that, at one point, the island had its share of farms. The Dykman Farmhouse Museum at 4881 Broadway is the oldest remaining farmhouse on the island. Built by William Dykman c. 1785, the home now serves as the atmospheric gallery for displaying collections of period-appropriate objects that belonged to the Dykman family. Also in house is the Reginald Pelham Bolton Collection, featuring an assortment of relics found on Manhattan Island, many dating back to the American Revolution and before.

El Museo del Barrio
At 1230 5th Avenue stands El Museo del Barrio, which is often affectionately abbreviated as “El Museo.” El Museo del Barrio is a cultural highlight of NYC, inviting visitors to explore the artistic landscape of Latino, Caribbean and Latin American cultures. Featuring a plentiful and diverse series of exhibitions and collections, the museum also employs performing arts, film, education programs and cultural celebrations to underscore and support its central aim to create a rich and immersive experience.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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