NYC's Offbeat Museums

We’ll never tire of exploring The Met, but there are also dozens of small museums in NYC worth discovering, too

New York City is full of museums to discover, and chances are when you first visit the Big Apple you’ll make a stop at The Met, the Guggenheim or MoMA. Those are guaranteed to be worth your time, but if you’re seeking a more unusual experience, try the Morbid Anatomy Museum, the Houdini Museum of New York or any number of other unique museums that call the city home.

Start your offbeat museum tour at the Hispanic Society of America’s museum in Upper Manhattan. Bursting with decorative objects, textiles, religious artifacts and creative works from revered Hispanic artists, the collection immerses visitors in the rich cultures of Spain, Portugal and Latin America. (613 W. 155th St., 212.926.2234)

The Anne Frank Center USA

The bravery of a girl forced into hiding during the Holocaust lives on not only in her famous diary, but also at The Anne Frank Center USA. The intimate museum preserves Frank’s optimism through photos, artifacts and stories, along with life-size images of her bedroom, where she wrote. Visitors can see how Frank’s story has inspired artists, like Nancy Patz whose series “Who Was the Woman Who Wore That Hat?” (detail pictured) is on display from Mar. 11. The center hosts events this spring to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. (44 Park Pl., 212.431.7993)

Williamsburg’s City Reliquary (370 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 718.782.4842) boasts a quirky collection of NYC stuff, like World’s Fair memorabilia and vintage souvenirs collected by locals. Gowanus’ Morbid Anatomy Museum (424 Third Ave., Brooklyn, 347.799.1017) explores all things macabre—think Victorian taxidermy, spirit photography and medical moulages. 

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (26 Wooster St., 212.431.2609) in Lower Manhattan celebrates the creativity of the LGBTQ community with exhibitions of edgy art. Much of the art is for sale, and entrance into the museum is free.

Over in Midtown, Scandinavia House (58 Park Ave., 212.779.3587) illuminates the often-remote Nordic culture through fascinating exhibitions, films and lectures. When visiting nearby Fantasma Magic across from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station, you will find the Houdini Museum of New York (421 Seventh Ave., 3rd fl., 212.244.3633) inside, which is great for kids and adults—plus it is free of charge. The museum contains relics such as handcuffs, magic props and memorabilia of the master artist.

Map of New York's Unique Museums

Joni Sweet
About the author

Joni serves as the New York associate e...