Undiscovered New York loves our museums. Who hasn’t come to the Museum of Modern Art and spent hours gazing at works like Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon? Or visited the the Met on a warm evening at dusk to take in one of New York’s best views from the rooftop sculpture garden? Or gazed in awe at the massive lifesize Blue Whale at the American Museum of Natural History?
But the truth is that whether you live here or you’re coming from out of town, a trip to New York’s “must see” museums can get old quickly. Don’t get me wrong – if you’ve never seen the Musuem of Modern Art or the Met, by all means go. But at the same time, the ridiculous weekend crowds and steep admission fees can conspire to spoil that ideal New York museum visit, especially at some of New York’s biggest and most popular spots. What’s a museum-loving visitor to do?
Lucky for you, New York is absolutely jam packed with amazing museums, covering just about any culture, subject, genre of art or period of history imaginable. Best of all, many of these museums are extremely cheap or free and you’ll avoid huge crowds and long waits that can spoil a visit at some of New York’s “biggies.” Want to have an awesome New York museum experience without all the fuss? Step inside Undiscovered New York’s favorite lesser-known New York museums, after the jump.
On the outskirts of Brooklyn’s trendy Wiliamsburg neighborhood, sandwiched along a row of unassuming storefronts and steps from the noisy BQE Expressway lies one of the more unique museum collections in all of New York. It’s called the City Reliquary, and it’s a less a formal museum than a testament to the maniacal habits of obsessive-compulsive New Yorkers.
Rather than focus on collection curated by some academic “expert,” the City Reliquary started as a repository for the collections of ordinary New Yorkers ranging from “vintage thermoses” to Presidential Plates and antique pens. The organization supplements these resident collections with displays of interesting New York paraphenalia including architectural remnants of New York City buildings and Statue of Liberty mementos. It’s a small but often fun antidote to the stuffy, more established museums across the river in Manhattan. As another plus, the admission is “pay what you wish.”
Rubin Museum of Art
The Met has an amazing collection of artwork from the Far East – enough to put most major museums to shame. But there’s so much to see it get a bit overwhelming at times. That’s why a museum like Chelsea’s Rubin Museum of Art can be a great alternative for easily distracted visitors. Rather than try to cover a huge range of countries and cultures in Asia, the Rubin Museum focuses exclusively on Himalayas and surrounding regions on several manageable floors. It’s a decidedly more leisurely, manageable and less crowded way to check out some amazing culture in a cool setting.
Museum of Sex
We mentioned the the Museum of Sex this past Valentine’s Day, and it honestly deserves another mention here. OK, yes, I know – it’s a museum about sex. But before you break into nervous giggles and write it off as some place for perverts, did you ever think to consider it might be an interesting museum? The answer is a definite YES. In all honesty, the scope of the Museum of Sex goes well beyond celebrating flesh to take a deeper look at human sexuality. Honest-to-goodness academic questions are asked through exhibits about censorship, obscenity laws and the changing morals of different societies through the years. And yes, of course, there are images of some naked people here and there (shocking isn’t it?).