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We here at Untapped Cities are always interested in uncovering the unseen, unnoticed, or misunderstood aspects of urban life. As such, we were super excited to speak with Morbid Anatomy Museum founder Joanna Ebenstein who, along with a community of “rogue scholars”, is dedicated to harboring some of the weirdest and most obscure artifacts in the world. We chatted with her about the roots of her unorthodox museum, which just opened two weeks ago in Gowanus, and its newest exhibit, The Art of Mourning.

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Look behind, in between and beyond the monumental marble walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum for some of NYC’s more eccentric museums. This week we explores NYC’s more unusual museums and libraries dedicated to iconic toys, wizardry, and the legacy of the mob.

1. The Troll Museum

It all started when owner Reverend Jen got her first troll doll Ariana at the age of nine. Her collection has long since grown to fill a Lower East Side apartment. Booking a tour will allow you to enter Reverend Jen’s world filled with costumed troll dolls and hear the inside stories of some haunted and cursed dolls in the collection. 

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Main Display Cabinet

Main Display Cabinet at the Morbid Anatomy Library

After visiting the Morbid Anatomy Library, part of Brooklyn’s interdisciplinary Proteus Gowanus Gallery, you are likely to feel haunted. I personally woke with my brow damp and my heart hammering, the memory of a black-and-white photograph depicting a dead baby clinging to my waking moments like residue. However, I promise you terror is far from the only emotional response the experience will elicit. After all, the Morbid Anatomy Library’s raison d’être is to showcase the curious intersection between beauty and death. Amidst the collection, there is much to be had of both. (more…)