NYC's most underrated museums

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  • Museum of the Moving Image

  • Onassis Cultural Center

  • The City Reliquary Museum

  • Chinese Scholar's Garden at Snug Harbor Cultural Center

  • The Forbes Galleries

  • National Museum of the American Indian

  • Ellis Island Immigration Museum

  • Richard Avedon, Veruschka, dress by Kimberly, New York, January 1967; 2009...

  • Dreamland at the Coney Island Museum; Photography by Brad Paris

  • Museum of Biblical Art

  • Micro Museum

  • The Drawing Center

  • The Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge

Museum of the Moving Image

National Academy Museum & School of Fine Art
In addition to its annual surveys of contemporary American art (which feature work from both emerging and established artists), the museum hosts special exhibits. On view now: "Reconfiguring the Body in American Art, 1820--2009," featuring Kehinde Wiley and Judith Shea, among others. 1083 Fifth Ave at 89th St (212-369-4880, nationalacademy.org)

Onassis Cultural Center
Established in 2000, this institution offers programming that celebrates Hellenic history, including exhibits showcasing ancient and modern Greek art (past shows have focused on the female form in classical Athens, and Giorgia de Chirico's impressions of Greece) as well as concerts, film screenings and lectures. 645 Fifth Ave at 51st St (212-486-4448, onassisusa.org)

City Reliquary Museum
Come for the crazy NYC ephemera (vintage pasties!); stay for the bike-friendly block parties and '30s-themed fests. 370 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-782-4842, cityreliquary.org)

Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Make a day of it at this S.I. staple: Check out the exhibit devoted to Brooklyn collective LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots) through September 13, or enjoy the silence of its New York Chinese Scholar's Garden. 1000 Richmond Terr at Snug Harbor Rd, Staten Island (718-448-2500, snug-harbor.org)

Forbes Galleries
Yes, like the magazine; the gallery is located in the lobby of its Fifth Avenue headquarters. The permanent collection includes Monopoly boards from the '20s and '30s, while temporary exhibits showcase modern art and blingy Cartier jewels. 62 Fifth Ave at 12th at St (212-206-5548, forbesgalleries.com)

National Museum of the American Indian
Get hip to native culture at this Smithsonian offshoot, which digs into the lives of Native Americans using cool artifacts like porcupine-quilled shirts and beaded dresses. 1 Bowling Green between State and Whitehall Sts (212-514-3700, nami.si.edu)

Ellis Island Immigration Museum
This was the epicenter of American immigration from 1892 to 1954. The museum recently added audio tours ($8), which'll help you navigate the collection (those stacks of suitcases still give us chills), and a living-theater show about immigrant Bela Lugosi ($6). Afterward, pop by the American Family Immigration History Center; for $5 researchers will help you trace your roots. New York Harbor (212-561-4588, ellisisland.org)

International Center of Photography
No genre of picture-snapping is overlooked at this museum and school. Go before September 20 to gape at fashion pics by Richard Avedon and David Seidner. 1133 Sixth Ave at 43rd St (212-857-0000, icp.org)

Coney Island Museum
The Poor Man's Riviera is preserved in all its grimy glory here; highlights include fun-house mirrors and vintage bumper cars. 1208 Surf Ave at 12th St, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-372-5159, coneyisland.com)

Museum of Biblical Art
Not a fan of God? That's okay—MoBIA's exhibits are thoughtful inquiries into the history of faith, often with a pop-culture bent. 1865 Broadway at 61st St (212-408-1500, mobia.org)

Micro Museum
This space is for artists, by artists: Founders William and Kathleen Laziza offer a variety of classes for creative types, while exhibits skew toward quirky multimedia installations that'd never be shown at a macro museum. 123 Smith St between Dean and Pacific Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-797-3116, micromuseum.com)


The name says it all: This joint is serious about drawing. (In fact, it's the only nonprofit in the country to focus on it exclusively.) Keep your eyes peeled for fantastic public programming like the annual Big Draw, as well as affordable workshops. 35 Wooster St between Broome and Grand Sts (212-219-2166, drawingcenter.org)

Museum of American Illustration at Society of Illustrators
Because what other place hosts exhibits on fashion advertisements, illustrations from fantasy mags and children's-book drawings all in the span of a single year? 128 E 63rd St between Park and Lexington Aves (212-838-2560, societyillustrators.org)

Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge
The location of this tiny maritime museum (in the 95-year-old Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge #79, docked at the tip of Red Hook) is as good a reason to go as any of the artifacts it houses. The current exhibit, "Showboat," is apropos for the setting: It's all about riverboat entertainment. 290 Conover St at Pier 44, Red Hook, Brooklyn (718-624-4719, waterfrontmuseum.org)


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