The Best Weird Museums in New York City

15 Wonderfully Weird Museums in New York City

New York City is well-known for its museums, with massive and beloved establishments like the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the city is also home to many hidden gems that go off the beaten path. 

From museums that showcase all things public transportation to the Met’s too-often-ignored sister site, we’ve compiled a list of the best and weirdest museums in NYC. Go museum-hopping with this list, and you’re bound to see a whole new side of the city!

15 Wonderfully Weird Museums in NYC

1. Go Underground at the New York Transit Museum

Best Museums in New York City: New York Transit Museum

You may not think that a museum about mass transportation would be one of the coolest museums in NYC, but you would be wrong. The New York Transit Museum is housed in a decommissioned subway station in Brooklyn, and it’s where you’ll find a rotating selection of 20 vintage subway and elevated cars that date all the way back to 1907.

You’ll also find unique exhibits that let you uncover how public transportation has shaped our cities and society as a whole. From subway signage throughout time to what fare collection has looked like over the years, this museum dives deep into all the different facets of mass transportation. 

2. Get a Hair Cut at the NYC Barber Museum

Must Visit Museums in New York City: NYC Barber Museum

Located on the Upper West Side, the NYC Barber Museum isn’t just a museum dedicated to the interesting history of barbering. It’s also a working barbershop, making this location one of the most unique museums in NYC! 

This museum strives to show that the barbershop isn’t just a place where men go to get their hair cut. It’s a social gathering place where men would come together to share ideas and a few drinks or cigars. Here, you can book a tour to see a collection of barber antiques, but you can also book a haircut or a shave.

3. Visit the Bone Museum

Found in East Williamsburg, the Bone Museum is a unique NYC museum that takes you deep into the study of human anatomy. You’ll learn about the medical bone trade and human osteology as you study complete skeletons, a spine wall, and over 100 human skulls. 

As the study of human bones can be considered somewhat taboo, such an extensive collection is rather rare, making it a one-of-a-kind location that’s great for those interested in anatomy.

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4. Go to the New York City Fire Museum

Best Museums in New York City: New York City Fire Museum

Featuring exhibits tucked inside a decommissioned firehouse from 1904 in Hudson Square, the New York City Fire Museum is the official museum of the New York City Fire Department. This is easily one of the most interesting museums in NYC as it invites you to uncover the firefighting history of New York City.

Here, you’ll find one of the country’s most extensive collections of fire-related art, artifacts, gear, and more, with objects dating all the way back to the late 18th century.

5. See the Treasures in the Trash Collection

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that’s the founding principle of the Treasures in the Trash Collection. Located on the second floor of the MANEAST11 garbage truck garage, Treasures in the Trash is easily one of the weirdest museums in NYC. Step inside and you can peruse the ever-growing collection of strange and wonderful items plucked from the garbage. 

Originally started by sanitation engineer Nelson Molina, the collection has expanded over the years. It’s currently not open to the public, but you can schedule an appointment and keep your eyes peeled for events that allow folks to get a glimpse of Molina’s treasures.

6. Get Intimate at the Museum of Sex

Weirdest Museums in New York City: Museum of Sex

Over in the Flatiron is another one of the weirdest museums in NYC, and it’s also one of the most misunderstood. The Museum of Sex may seem raunchy by its name, but it’s actually a fascinating and emotional journey through the history of human sexuality.

While it may not exactly be family-friendly, this museum takes you through exhibits on sex positivity, sexuality in queer activism, and artifacts ranging from early vibrators to Braille issues of “Playboy.” You can also enter into a playground unlike anything else, themed to an erotic carnival.

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7. Celebrate NYC Architecture at the Skyscraper Museum

Best Museums in New York City: Skyscraper Museum
Image courtesy of Skyscraper Museum

Over in Battery Park City, the Skyscraper Museum is a small space with big stories. This interesting NYC museum invites you to learn about the development of NYC architecture and some of its most defining buildings. Uncover the stories behind the city’s greatest landmarks, from their conception to their construction to the cultural impacts of their existence.

8. Go to the National Museum of Mathematics

Must Visit Museums in New York City: National Museum of Mathematics
Image courtesy of National Museum of Mathematics, Julian Putnam

Also known as MoMath, the National Museum of Mathematics was the first museum in the US dedicated to mathematics, making it one of the most unique museums in NYC. This mathematics museum features over 30 interactive exhibits that invite you to solve puzzles and problems through pattern recognition, statistics, geometry, and much more. 

While the museum is fun for all ages, it’s a particularly great choice if you’re traveling to NYC with kids. It’s an excellent way to show them just how fun and impactful math can be!

9. See the Smallest Museum in NYC

Blink, and you just may miss the Mmuseumm, the smallest museum in New York City. The Mmuseumm is found in a narrow corridor of Cortlandt Alley, small enough to fit inside an elevator shaft. This strange NYC museum is considered a modern natural history museum, where you’ll find a collection of objects that tell you stories about today’s world. 

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10. Uncover the History of Coney Island

For some people, Coney Island is where to go to ride some rides on a nice, warm summer day in NYC. But the Coney Island Museum will show you the many different sides of this beloved location. 

Discover exhibits and artifacts that will take you back in time to show you the interesting history of this one-of-a-kind attraction. From funhouse mirrors to carousel horses, there’s a lot to uncover about Coney Island here.

11. Spend Time at the Museum of American Finance

Throughout history, New York City has been integral to the building of the American finance system. The Museum of American Finance will help you uncover that history, as well as teach you about some of the US’ biggest financial systems, like Wall Street and the Dow Jones. 

The museum also offers workshops and classes that can teach you more about personal finance, such as retirement planning courses.

12. Visit the Waterfront Museum

Weirdest Museums in New York City: Waterfront Museum
Image courtesy of Waterfront Museum

The Waterfront Museum in Brooklyn is dedicated to maritime history and showcases the vital role of the New York Harbor. This unique NYC museum is housed on a Lehigh Valley Railroad barge that moved goods across the Hudson River. 

Believed to be the only all-wooden Hudson River railroad barge still afloat, it dates all the way back to 1914 and offers performances and tours through its extensive collection of maritime and railroad artifacts today. 

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13. Celebrate all Things NYC at the City Reliquary

The City Reliquary is one of the most interesting museums in New York City because it tells so many of the city’s stories. Located behind a bodega in Williamsburg, this museum houses an expansive collection of artifacts from all five boroughs. 

The City Reliquary prides itself on being a place to bring New Yorkers together. In addition to its rotating exhibits and permanent collection, you’ll also find events abound, from film screenings to cocktail parties.

14. Venture Off to the Cloisters

Best Museums in New York City: Met Cloisters

We all know the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but did you know that it actually has more than one location? The Met Cloisters is located in Washington Heights, and it more than deserves a visit. Here, you’ll find a much more picturesque setting than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with art and architecture inspired by the Romanesque and Gothic periods. 

Unlike the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there’s less of a formal collection here. While there are about 5,000 individual pieces of art and other artifacts, they’re not really hung up in galleries. Instead, they are arranged thematically to enhance the architecture and help you embrace the feeling of stepping back in time.

15. Tap into NYC’s Mood at the Museum of Feelings

The Museum of Feelings is one of the most unique museums in NYC because it changes in real time. Located in Battery Park City, the exterior of the museum changes colors depending on the mood of the city, as determined by social media scraping and other data, effectively functioning as the city’s mood ring.

Inside, you’ll find even more interactive attractions, from a kaleidoscope controlled by emotion to the creation of a MoodLens, or an emotional selfie, that matches you with your own customized fragrance. Easily one of the most interesting museums in NYC, it’s a place that invites you to learn about emotions and how so much can affect them.

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There you have it! The 15 weirdest museums in NYC. What are your favorite museums in NYC? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author:

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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