5 Great Offbeat Museums In NYC

December 31, 2013 7:30 PM

Because you can’t look at Van Goghs and Monets all the time, New York City offers several museums dedicated to the quirky, the unusual, and the eccentric. Here are our five favorites. By Jessica Allen.

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(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

The City Reliquary

370 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 782-4842

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This tiny museum in Brooklyn showcases one-offs and collections depicting and relating to New York, including old-fashioned postcards of the Statue of Liberty, actual samples of Manhattan schist, pens, trinkets, signs, globes, and other weird, wild stuff that celebrates the “local character” of this weird, wild city.

(credit: Howard Walfish)

(credit: Howard Walfish)

Museum of Math

11 East 26th Street
Brooklyn, NY 10010
(212) 542-0566

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Dedicated to “illuminat[ing] the patterns and structures all around us,” the first museum of mathematics in the United States celebrates all things geometric, algebraic, numeric, imaginary, binary, spatial, and logical. Exhibits attempt to render the abstract concrete using interactive LEDs, lasers, and other technology. It all adds up to fun.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

Museum of Sex

233 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 689-6337

The Museum of Sex, um, straddles the line between porny and ninth-grade health class. Exhibits about how sex is depicted in street art (pictured) or in the movies, or showing the sex lives of animals or of robots provide insight into human sexuality in its complex, many-sided glory. Coming soon: PLAY, what the museum calls the “first-ever food-sex-art-cocktail bar.”

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

New York Transit Museum

130 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 694-1600

Needless to say, the New York Transit Museum focuses on the good stuff. Located in a former subway station in Brooklyn Heights, the museum has space to exhibit hundreds of artifacts, from old turnstiles to ancient metal slugs used to avoid paying the 5-cent fare. The preserved cars, complete with maps and ads, are enough to fill even the most cynical of riders with civic pride.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)


Cortlandt Alley
Between between Franklin and White Streets
New York, NY 10013

Enclosed in a former freight elevator, Museum specializes in found objects—wacky, deteriorating stuff that somehow made their way out of their owners’ hands and into this Tribeca alley. The opening exhibit in 2012 included such things as a collection of toothpaste from around the world, misspelled food labels from restaurant kitchens, Chinatown sex aids, and knock-off Sharpies.

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