If you’ve ever checked out Manhattan’s world-class museum scene, you’ve probably hit the biggies like the Guggenheim, the Met, and the other major players. But NYC is also home to tons of “other” museums that shock, entertain, and explore the oddities that make this city so unique. So spice up your cultural agenda and check out five of our favorite alternative museums in Manhattan.
1. Museum of Sex
All blushing and giggles aside, the Museum of Sex puts quite the educational and explorative spin on, well, sex. With a rousing display of objects and ephemera ranging from kinky to downright shocking, the permanent collection candidly explores the relationships between sex and art, entertainment, technology, and education. The museum is adults-only, so leave the kids (and any immature friends, for that matter) at home. 233 5th Ave. at 27th St.; museumofsex.com
2. The Skyscraper Museum
Located alongside the century-old towers of Lower Manhattan, the Skyscraper Museum is perfect for any architecture, design, or tall-building enthusiast. Browse the exhibitions and learn how technology, construction, and historical influences have built and shaped the high-rise complexes that dominate New York’s phenomenal skyline. 39 Battery Pl. at Little West St.; skyscraper.org
3. Museum of the City of New York
The Museum of the City of New York brings you back – way back – to the Big Apple’s earliest days of elevated trains, bustling harbors, and top hat-and-tails dinner galas. Exhibitions also explore New York’s current infrastructure, fashions, landmarks, and culture. A wide variety of multimedia presentations, performances, and public programs keep visitors immersed and involved. 1220 5th Ave. at 103rd St.; mcny.org
4. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Tourists flock to this popular Midtown attraction, and for good reason. Where else can you mingle with world leaders, schmooze with movie stars, and get up close and personal with major sports icons? Figurines are somewhat still, very quiet, and might melt in the sun, but a few pictures of you posing with an incredibly lifelike Justin Timberlake will definitely make your friends jealous. 234 W. 42nd St., btwn 7th & 8th aves.; madametussauds.com
5. The Cloisters
Feel like you're visiting medieval Europe without leaving Manhattan, with a trip to The Cloisters. The Cloisters is part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Its museum and gardens are located in Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan on four acres overlooking the Hudson River; the complex itself is a unique architectural amalgam of five medieval French monasteries. Inside, find some 5,000 works of art from the 12th through the 15th century, exhibited in a unique setting that truly transports visitors to medieval Europe.
99 Margaret Corbin Dr. in Fort Tryon Park; metmuseum.org/visit/met-cloisters
-- Updated by Elissa Garay