Does the idea of going to the MoMA or the Met (yet again) bore you? If you want to stimulate your mind but you're tired of all of the typical museums in town, here are some that you probably haven't checked out yet.
The City Reliquary This storefront museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is full of quirky artifacts that illuminate moments in New York's history. Items on display include portraits of Brooklyn Dodgers players, bottles of obsolete beverages, subway tokens, and outdated postcards—a much more fun way of taking in history than reading plaques. For an added twist, the museum also showcases oddball collections furnished by local residents; one recent exhibit was an accumulation of unicorn figurines. All in all, the City Reliquary is a tribute to everyday objects and what they can teach us about the past and the present.
Hollis Hip Hop Museum This "museum" is actually located in a burger joint in Hollis, Queens, the home neighborhood of old school hip hop legends Run-DMC and other formative rappers. The walls of Hollis Famous Burgers are lined with memorabilia from the early days of hip hop: photos, records, turntables, clothing, and sneakers from Run-DMC, Ja Rule, LL Cool J, and others. But don't venture all the way to this neighborhood just to look at the artifacts—the classic, inexpensive burgers and fries are very popular as well.
For anyone who appreciates the height of the buildings around them, this museum in Battery Park City should be fascinating. Exhibits at the Skyscraper Museum will teach you about the complex factors that go into designing and building tall buildings, how they have changed over time, and what they mean to our society and economy. You can ogle at miniature models of Manhattan, compare the building processes of the old World Trade Center and the new Ground Zero complex, and learn about the world's tallest building in Dubai.
The Noguchi Museum Located in Long Island City, Queens, this sculpture museum is devoted to one artist, Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi designed notable parks, gardens, stages, building interiors, pieces of furniture, and sculptures that are on display in several states and countries. One that you may have seen is the large Red Cube found in Manhattan's Financial District. But the largest concentration of his works is available for viewing here at his namesake museum. If nothing else, his huge range of styles and mediums and the sheer number of pieces he has produced will impress you.
I'm a big fan of the Noguchi Museum. It's the perfect place to pack a picnic, hop on your bike - which is one of the easier ways to get there, since it's so close to the waterfront - and explore. It really feels like a secret!