Summer is in full swing and everybody is looking for stuff to do with their time off. Today, I want tell you about a place you can go where you will have so much fun your head will explode. If you get excited by learning about the history of New York City, and love to have fun adventures that don’t cost very much, the City Reliquary Museum is a place you simply must visit! Located just two stops off the L train, and a short walk, into Brooklyn from Manhattan (for easy reference, it’s located directly across the street from the Knitting Factory), a visit to this local gem of sweet nostalgia is one of the best bargains in existence. Naomi and I had the chance to visit last month on a day that was somewhat overcast and drizzly, and we had all kinds of crazy fun.
Best of all, admission is just Five Dollars! What a bargain! The City Reliquary Museum not only collects relics and ephemera from NYC life in the five boroughs, but they also feature special exhibits that put a keen focus on the minutia that makes New York one of the greatest places to visit, and live, on earth. Here are some of the things we saw and enjoyed during our visit!
Once you enter the Museum from the front room, which is home to an adorable little gift shop that you’re going to want to spend some time browsing before you head out, you’ll have two more rooms to explore that are just packed with cool stuff.
In the first room, you will be captivated by wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling collections, displays and exhibits of everything from tributes to New York City landmarks, two remembrances of famous businesses, NYC Baseball teams, and on to icons of the transit system and anything else you can imagine that it has something to do with life here in the City that Never Sleeps.
Locals will recognize the red and green globes above as markers found at the entrances to many subway stations. I love how they’ve incorporated them right into the design of the room.
Here is a adjoining-car door (and what looks like an ancient subway route map as well!) taken from a long-retired subway train.
You can still find bus stop route markers like this at stops around town. I love how it just seems to be discarded in a corner, like you’re stumbling upon some kind of archaeological dig.
Have you ever used one of these? It reminds me of a re-created historical relic that you might find at Disneyland in an exhibit about Americana Kitsch.
This collection of vintage postcards depicting the Statue of Liberty will give you an excellent idea of the attention to detail that’s paid to each separate display over every square inch of the museum. The rooms may be small, but you could spend several hours in here.
Maybe you were once a patron of Al Criscillo’s Barber Shop, which was located at Metropolitan Avenue & Humboldt Street in Brooklyn — not that far from where the museum now sits. If so, you can relive your happy memories of time spent in his chair when you take a peek inside this nostalgia-inducing diorama.
Photos of Al with some of his customers are preserved in album adjacent to the diorama. It is extremely sweet.
Learn about the History of Burlesque in NYC in this compact exhibit that ls about the size of a Phone Booth.
Stuffed Alligator on the ceiling enjoys a slice!
Even the Restroom is is like a tiny museum inside a museum.
Talk about economic use of available real estate!
The museum also hosts rotating Special Exhibits, and currently there are two different ones you can see. The first is called The Pizza Box Chronicles, which pays tribute to New York City’s Love Affair with Pizza!
There is a pretty impressive collection of pizza boxes, including New York–inspired pizza boxes from restaurants not even located in the state!
Get educated by reading all about the legend of Famous Original Ray’s Pizza!
You can also watch a loop of film clips from various movies where the characters talk about pizza, eat pizza or talk about eating pizza. Fun!
The second Special Exhibit which was featured when we visited is dedicated to a private collection of Joseph Kopitz, who collects Miniature Souvenir Buildings.
What a cool Collection! Apparently, Joe has been amassing a small empire of New Your City real estate for the past 30 years. His collection includes such well-known buildings as the Empire State building, the Chrysler building, the Woolworth building, the Pan Am building, Grande Central Terminal and many others. He is even added buildings from all over the world to his vast holdings of buildings that average only from 3 inches to 8 inches tall. It was very generous of him to share his collection with the museum, so that others can also enjoy it.
After you’ve browsed the museum’s two main rooms, be sure and head out to explore the backyard area, which is where they host community events from time to time, such as film screenings, as well as being a place to store artifacts that don’t quite fit into the museum.
Take a look at this cool bar.
Look at this beautiful shrine made out of old bottles and cement, where the Statue of Liberty is ensconced in an old bathtub. Amazing.
There’s a nice collection of well-kept picnic tables back here, and maybe they would let you sit there and have a snack, but you would want to ask first.
We had the best adventure at the City Reliquary Museum, and I’m going to suggest you put it on your list of local sites not to be missed! if you have friends coming in from out of town be sure to bring them here also.
The City Reliquary Museum is Located at 370 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211. Hours are Thurs – Sun: 12 Noon – 6:00 PM (Except Major Holidays). To get the most up to date information, please call (718)782-4842.