NYC's 10 Most Unusual Museums

Photos Courtesy of The Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Photos Courtesy of The Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Photo of Sean Scarisbrick
9 February 2017

There’s nothing wrong with being different. Whether it’s because they deal with unique subjects or because they’re situated in distinctive spaces, the following museums show how great it is to be unusual.

Courtesy of the Museum of Sex

Museum of Sex

Museum, Shop
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Museum of Sex in NYC
© Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo
Located in New York City’s Flatiron District, the Museum of Sex products groundbreaking exhibitions that look at the history of sexuality in all its forms, even including an exhibit on animal sex. Bounce around in ‘Jump for Joy,’ a bouncy-house that could only exist at MoSex. Check out Splendor in the Grass: Kinesthetic Camping Ground, an exhibit that transforms the innocent idea of camping into a sensual experience for visitors. Leave your prudish side at home as you immerse yourself into the world of sexuality.

Merchant’s House Museum

Museum, Park
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This museum is not in a location like most others in NYC because people actually lived here. At the Merchant’s House Museum, viewers follow the story of the Tredwell family. Seabury Tredwell bought this home in 1835, and his descendants lived there until his daughter, Gertrude, died in 1933. In 1936, it opened as a museum, and in 1965, it was designed a landmark. While this museum is designated to celebrate the historical life of this incredible family, it is also a hotbed for those who love the paranormal — as many have claimed to see, hear, and smell Gertrude’s ghost. Beware, NYC.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Museum, Library, Building
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Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side of New York City, NY, USA.
The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side explores the story of immigration in the USA | © Paule Saviano / Alamy Stock Photo
Learn what life was like for immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries at The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The museum stands on Orchard Street, and the tenement was renovated and ready for tours beginning in 1992. This unique museum affords viewers with the opportunity to go back in time in guided tours, which explain the lives of its immigrants. You can also go on a walking tour in the Lower East Side to learn more generally about the lives and difficulties of immigrants in NYC.

Historic Richmond Town

Museum, Building, Church, School
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You won’t just stare at paintings on a wall here. Take a journey back in time at one of the four sites at the Historic Richmond Town. Each of these separate locations (Richmondtown, Decker Farm, Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House, and Judge Jacob Tysen House) are connected under this one museum. Walk around one of Staten Island’s most historic locations in a daily guided tour. Check out their interesting events and programs, like the Candlelight Tours, and transport yourself back centuries.

Museum of Food and Drink

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Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) Lab, New York
Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) Lab, New York | Courtesy of the Museum of American Finance
Take your museum experience to the next level at the Museum of Food and Drink, a new museum designated to educate patrons on the science of eating. Sounds delicious, right” President and founder Dave Arnold desires to educate, inspire, and create under the auspices that all people eat and food is an intricate part of culture. Learn the science behind how food is created, and maybe have a snack while you’re there.

Museum of American Finance

Mathematics | © Robert Scarth/Flickr
You don’t need to break the bank to visit the Museum of American Finance, a museum dedicated to teaching about American finance and financial history. Head down to Wall Street and become submerged in the subject itself. Learn about Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of Treasury. Learn about the history of American currency in America In Circulation: A History of U.S. Currency Featuring the Collection of Mark R. Shenkman. You’re surrounded by money everyday; why not learn some more about it?

National Museum of Mathematics

Museum, School
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Cloister Arcades, French, early 14th Century
Cloister Arcades, French, early 14th Century | © Ted/Flickr
Most people stop studying math after high school, but math is constantly in our lives. From splitting a check with friends at a restaurant to estimating the sale price at a retail store, knowing math is an incredibly useful tool. At the National Museum of Mathematics, visitors learn about math with incredible hands-on activities. While the museum specifically targets elementary and middle school students, people of all ages can learn from its exhibits.

The Cloisters

Building, Monastery, Museum, Park
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The Cloisters is like other museums in NYC because it features art on the walls and sculptures throughout, but what makes it so unusual is its location and housing. The museum is located in Washington Heights in Fort Tyron Park, so visitors can take in the amazing view of the Hudson River. To make the museum trip even more remarkable, the museum is housed in a building in a medieval style so you truly feel like you’re emerged in a medieval castle viewing a vast collection of medieval art. As a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art specializing in medieval art, the Cloisters is a worth the trip for both its art and its incredible location.

New York City Fire Museum

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Did you know that there have been people fighting fires in New York since Peter Stuyvesant’s time in New Amsterdam” The history of firefighters and firefighting equipment is on display at the New York City Fire Museum, and there’s an exhibit to memorialize the firefighters who lost their loves from September 11, 2001. This museum is also educational, and it has a mock apartment that stimulates a fire, a tool that is geared toward educating school-age children.

The Museum of Feelings

Building, Museum
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It’s only around for a short time, NYC, but The Museum of Feelings is an incredible museum that changes with the feelings of the city. The outside of the building changes color to reflect the overall trends and sentiments on social media; if the city is optimistic, the building turns red, and if the city is joyful, the building turns green. When walking through the museum, visitors are expected to take part in exhibits that deal with the senses, so get ready for a uniquely immersive museum visit.