New York, New York. With the number of people and sheer size of this city, there’s bound to be a special amount of uniqueness to it. Sometimes, with all the hustle and bustle of a city as big as New York, the spots that make it so different can be easily overlooked. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 7 unique museums in Manhattan that, more times than not, get overlooked due to some of their larger, more popular counterparts. Whether you’re a New York native looking to visit someplace different, or a visitor who likes to find the uncommon parts of a city first, there’s bound to be a museum on this list that’ll catch your attention. However, choosing to share your newfound knowledge with those who don’t know about these nuggets yet will be up to you…
1. George Glazer Gallery
308 E 94th St, New York, NY 10128
This gallery describes themselves perfectly: “Scholarly with a decorative flair and a sense of curiosity that revels in the offbeat,” the George Glazer Gallery specializes in antiquarian globes, maps, and prints—however, you might also find other items if they are distinctive enough (i.e. giant wooden hands and a funky funhouse mirror) to be put on display. The items in this place are so beautifully unique that they are often sought after for use in set design for both movies and magazines. Big names like Warner Brothers and Twentieth Century Fox have even rented items from their collections. If you’re not in the market for an irreplaceable piece, you can still stop by the gallery—view the collections, and visualize a world of a different time.
2. The Houdini Museum of New York
3rd floor, 421 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001
The Great Houdini: a man who started in film and ended up being the master escape artist. Houdini spent his life creating mystery for the world; he pushed limits, the more impossible and risky the challenge, the more likely Houdini was to accept it. He was a master of entertainment, always eager to please his audience. His success at conquering the dangerous and unheard of are what has kept Houdini the most recognized name in magic, both during his heyday and now. Inside the museum, you will find extremely rare posters and hundreds of personal items that the man of magic used on his path to renowned fame. If you happen to feel inspired after your visit, you can also catch a few magic classes offered by the museum.
3. The Burns Archive
140 E 38th St, New York, NY 10016
What could possibly be so unique about a museum of photographs? Well, The Burns Archive isn’t a collection of just any photographs. A lot of its photographs are distinct evidence of some of the more unsettling sides of history. The museum’s most famous photographs are those depicting instances such as death, disease, mayhem, crime, racism, revolution and war. A lot of these photos are not for the faint of heart—you’ve been forewarned. The museum also has quite the collection of medical photography (yikes)… again, we warned you.
4. The Lightship Frying Pan
Pier 66 at West 26th St. in Hudson River Park
This ship was popular in between the late 1700 to early 1900s. What makes this ship special? Well, it also acts as a lighthouse! And what’s more? It is 1 of an estimated 15 left in the United States today! But wait, it get’s even better—The Lightship Frying Pan is free and permanently docked right here in New York City. This ship was sunk and left underwater for approximately 3 years before being salvaged, purchased, and restored. Pretty nifty.
5. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
28 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
This site was the childhood home to one of the Presidential heads on Mount Rushmore: Teddy Roosevelt—our 26th President of the United States. Theodore is remembered for his love of exploring and the outdoors and is well known for spearheading what is known as the Progressive Era in the US. Roosevelt is often regarded as one of the greatest Presidents this country has ever seen; he undoubtedly lived a full adventurous life and the museum houses items that reflect that very sentiment. If you’re a history or US President buff, this is the place for you.
6. City Hall Station
Located underneath City Hall, this subway station was referred to as the Manhattan Main Line upon its opening in 1904. When being designed by Rafael Guastavino, this stop was to be the masterpiece for the new subway. It’s a bit different than most subway stops today—as the semi-secret gem features chandeliers, skylights, and special glass tile work. The station was put out of use in 1945… however, it is still used as a turn around for the 6 train. You can get a tour of the station if you are a member of the Transit Museum and are lucky enough to get tickets for one of its roughly 16 tours per year… or, you might just be lucky enough to get a glance from a 6 train turning around.
7. Morris–Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terrace, New York, NY 10032
This mansion is the oldest remaining house in Manhattan—quite the feat for a city that was founded in 1624! Colonel Roger Morris built the mansion in 1765 for himself and wife, Mary Philipse, as a summer villa. During the American Revolution, it served as an office for George Washington and his Patriot officers, as well as the British and their allies. In it’s later years it became a home to Eliza Bowen and Aaron Burr (Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President who became famous for challenging Alexander Hamilton to a duel, which resulted in his death). The mansion is now a museum that showcases over 200 years of New York history and culture.