Last year, we rounded up 10 of our favorite off-the-radar museums in New York City, from the Troll Museum to the museum that’s just in a freight elevator. It’s been so popular, we’re expanding that list with ten more unique finds.
When was the last time you visited your local sanitation garage for a gallery tour? Over the course of 33 years, sanitation worker Nelson Molina has collected thousands of items that can tell stories about NYC and its people arguably better than any hallowed institution could. His carefully curated collection titled “The Treasures in the Trash Museum” has its home in a sanitation garage on the Upper East Side. Though it’s not normally open to the public, you can get access during Open House New York weekend. Check out this article for more photos.
With rents soaring and boutique shops popping up everywhwere it seams, The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space occupies an important place in East Village’s activist and artistic identity. Visitors not only learn about the history of grassroots activism in the area, but can also attend in-depth walking tours of the East Village. Check out our coverage of this space here.
Enter the often forgotten but fascinating James A. Farley Post Office behind Penn Station for an extensive collection of vintage mail paraphernalia from the United States and abroad. There are vintage delivery wagons and bicycles, collection boxes from around the world, and lots of other stuff. Check out more photos of the museum here.
The Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) boasts hands-on installations that educate visitors on the wonders of math. Located just north of Madison Square Park, the museum originally began as a reaction to the closing of a small mathematics museum in Long Island, the Goudreau Museum, in 2006. MoMath turned out to be the only museum of mathematics in the entire country and has since received an official charter from the New York State Department of Education. Individuals ages “105 to 5 years old,” are welcome.
5. Underpenny Plane and Cast Iron Museum
South Korean Undsung Park, a Queens resident of 22 years, opened up his museum at 10-13 50th Avenue to house his massive collection of mid-19th century artifacts. The museum occupies one room in a renovated basement, with the left side featuring artifacts for sale, and the right side solely for exhibition. Vintage junkies will lose themselves in perusing his myriad of treasures.
The Waterfront Museum speaks to an earlier time along the Red Hook shoreline in Brooklyn, and is located within an actual barge, The Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge #79. Built in 1914, it is the only one of its kind that is open to the public in the entire country. During the summer, the Museum makes its way to other ports with the help of a tugboat, bringing new meaning to the concept of a traveling exhibition!
7. Houdini Museum
Have you ever wondered what Harry Houdini’s secrets were? The Houdini Museum in Fantasma Magic near Penn Station houses the actual tools and tricks that the great magician used to escape cages, coffins, and straight jackets. Other objects include Houdini’s clothing, original posters, and even an animatronic Houdini who escapes from a straitjacket hanging from the ceiling right before your eyes.
The Earth Room is a loft space at 141 Wooster Street filled with 280,000 pounds of soil. Serving as both a testament to contemporary art and a sanctuary from the busy streets of SoHo, the room is a permanent installation and was conceived in 1977 by Walter de Maria, an American artist and sculptor.
The Graffiti Hall of Fame inside the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex playground on 106th and Park Ave represents one of the best places in NYC to encounter world-class street art. Its motto, “Strictly Kings and Better,” reflects the high caliber of work by both local and international artists.
10. Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
Did you know that the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island was the first museum in the world that specialized in Tibetan art? Go to see an extensive collection of Tibetan Buddhist artifacts, and don’t forget to explore the museum’s garden, and relax (or even meditate) by the coy fish pond.
To find more museums off the beaten track, read our Top 10 Off-the-Radar Museums in NYC.
For more of our lists, check out our Top 10 Column.