Unusual Museums in New York City

New York has some of the weirdest people, places and things and has always attracted crowds with their promise for amazement. Unfortunately, much of the weird has been lost with the commercialization of NYC but of course, there will always be those who choose to maintain the oddities of our history, or at least make a spectacle of it to make some money. Below is a brief list of a combination of the two.

The Museum of Sex:

Museum of Sex Kink Exhibit NYCAlthough this is not the only museum in the world that promotes an “educational” or “historical” viewpoint of the sexual realms of society, it is certainly one of the most visited. Surprisingly enough, the museum is run by academics and curators who really make sure not only to entertain but also to shed light on and educate about the history of sexuality. The Museum of Sex is broken up into three different exhibits, all of which promise to be hilarious, shocking and actually pretty informative.

The first section is made up of informative, but still titillating, temporary exhibits that can last anywhere from a month to over a year. Some of the more recent ones have included Kink, an in depth look at different modern fetishes complete with video, explanations and history of how each one came to be, Vamps and Virgins, a look back to the pin-up era, and even Sex Machines, complete with photographs, interviews, and the devices themselves.

The second section has been the same for some time now and is called Action “Sex and the Moving Image”. It includes famous sex scenes from movies, famous porn films and even the notorious Paris Hilton and other celebrity sex tapes.

The third and final section of the museum claims to display over 15,000 sexual artifacts from human and namely NYC, sexual history. This room, though small, is rather overwhelming and stimulating, especially after being in the dark room of pornographic films only moments before. There is even a racy sex doll displayed on the wall that you can actually feel to see how real it seems for absolutely free!

All that being said, this museum is not for the faint of heart. All entrants must be 18+ and patrons will be IDed at the door. But for all those of age and prepared to be shocked, appalled and most likely disgusted, this fantastic museum is definitely worth the visit.

233 Fifth Avenue, corner of 27th St.
NYC, NY 10016
(212) 689-6337

Sunday-Friday 11:00am-6:30pm
Saturday: 11:00-8:00pm (Last ticket sold at 7:15pm)

Adults: $14.50 + tax
Seniors/Students: $13.50 + tax

Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium:

Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium NYCBoth of these museums are massive corporate chains that overcharge and are usually filled with tourists as they are located in the heart of Times Square. That being said, their contents are arguably completely worth both the exorbitant fees and rather irritating crowds.

Who would have thought that fake people could be so entertaining and surprisingly funny? Why it is that we laugh at the fact that a wax figure looks exactly like Barack Obama or Marilyn Monroe we may never know, but the fact remains that a trip through the Madame Tussaud wax museum is exciting and super fun. Here you can “meet” a number of celebrities, politicians, performers, sports figures, historical figures, and as of late, even Spongebob Squarepants, all the people you expect to randomly run into on the NYC streets but never do.

The artistry conducted by these sculptors is worth supporting the admission prices alone. It is actually terrifyingly creepy how realistic they all are and you could easily take photos next to Elvis and convince your friends back home that you met him. Except for the whole him being dead thing… but there are always believers!

Speaking of believers, The Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium next door is just as pricey and crowded but it is also just as entertaining. It has a collection of the tallest, thinnest, shortest, fattest, weirdest, creepiest and most random things in American history including the largest collection of shrunken heads and a replica of a Black Hole. The museum is set up to be kitschy and a tourist trap with its eerie lighting, cartoon-esque signs, and overwhelming displays but it really is effective in being somewhat perversely delightful. However, do be prepared for non-politically correct exhibits as some of this information dates back to the times when sideshows were exploitative and depressing rather than simply odd.

234 W. 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10036
Madame Tussauds: (800) 246-8872
Ripley’s: (212) 398-3133

Madame Tussauds: Open daily from 10:00am-10:00pm with last admission at 8:00pm.
Ripley’s: Open daily from 9:00am-1:00am with last admission at midnight.
Both museums recommend about 1.5-2 hours for visiting time per museum.

Madame Tussauds:
Adult: $28.00 + tax (online) $35.00 + tax (door)
Seniors: $25.60 + tax (online) $32.00 + tax (door)
Children: $22.40 + tax (online) $25.00 + tax (door)
Adult: $24.93 (online) $29.34 (door)
Children (4-12): $18.46 (online) $21.72 (door)

Check both websites for seasonal coupons as well:

New York Transit Museum:

MTA Transit Museum NYCAlthough not actually located in Manhattan itself, the Brooklyn based New York Transit Museum is an homage to a technological innovation that made NYC the impressive giant that it is today. Not only is this museum educational and beneficial to the transit program but it’s also nostalgic, fascinating and surprisingly cheap. For anyone who loves trains, subways, history or just NYC, this is an excellent spot to stop off at to see old train cars, fare collection methods, and constantly renewed exhibits and programs.

The museum itself is located in an old subway station and they offer informative and awesome tours that show you the parts of the subway system that we as distracted and busy commuters never notice or get the chance to see. In addition, parts of the museum are available for rental for birthday parties for children or even just for special events where guests can actually board vintage trains on the platform.

For those looking for an even more informative trip, MTA opens its archives to the public displaying old photographs, documents and art related to the transportation system’s history, however all viewings are by appointment only made by calling (718) 694-1068 Monday-Friday between 10:00am and 4:00pm.

Boerum Pl. & Schermerhorn St.
Brooklyn, NY
(212) 878-0106

Tuesday-Friday: 10:00am-4:00pm
Saturday and Sunday: Noon-5:00pm
Closed Mondays.

Adults: $5.00
Seniors (62+): $3.00, Free on Wednesdays.
Children (3-17): $3.00