When visitors think about museums in New York City, a few popular ones jump to mind: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History. While these icons are home to countless treasures, there are also many other exciting museums, spread from Astoria in Queens to the tip of lower Manhattan in Battery Park City. Here are five opportunities to get off the well-worn museum path and discover something new.
Movie buffs will be drawn to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. Focused on all aspects of film, television and digital media, this fascinating museum contains artifacts, screenings and interactive experiences. With a core exhibition, as well as rotating ones, the Museum of the Moving Image engages visitors of all ages. It is housed in the historic Kaufman Astoria Studios, a Paramount production studio dating back to the 1920s, so the dedication to the moving image is that much deeper.
In Manhattan, you’re surrounded by impressive feats of architecture — but you can easily miss it if you don’t look up. The Skyscraper Museum in Battery Park City (next door to Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park) shines a light on the vertical building that has been partially responsible for creating such a dynamic city on a skinny little island. Learn about the skyline’s past, present and future through a permanent exhibit with hand-carved miniature wooden models of Manhattan as well as rotating exhibitions.
Located in a Beaux-Arts firehouse dating back to 1904 in the downtown Manhattan neighborhood of Soho, the New York City Fire Museum showcases gear, art and artifacts related to firefighting from the late 18th century through the present (examples of early fire engines is a highlight). With a special section dedicated to FDNY members who lost their lives on 9/11, this museum is both informative and touching.
Rising above the Bowery in silver stacked boxes, the New Museum is a downtown destination for contemporary art. This museum dates back to the 1970s, but its current location — designed by Tokyo-based architects — opened in 2007. Though the building itself is a work of art, you’ll find even more intriguing things inside. Free tours are available; exhibitions are rotating in and out of this impressive space every couple of months.
If fashion is art, then fashion deserves its own museum. This exhibition space at the Fashion Institute of Technology highlights the history and artistic capabilities of the clothes we love. Exhibitions and special events cover a variety of topics from the history of lingerie to fashions of the 1930s to the impact of the black leather motorcycle jacket. Famous designers (think Elie Tahari) are often brought in for special events, as well.
Photo Courtesy of New Museum, New York. Photo: Dean Kaufman