Only 15 minutes from midtown, the Museum of the Moving Image is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions, devoted to all manifestations of movement in art. Rubbing elbows with Kaufman Astoria Studios, the three-story building, complete with a state-of-the-art 264-seat cinema, screens movies daily. Meanwhile gallery spaces display artifacts, including 19th century optical toys, modern video games, and recognizable objects from films.
This quirky institution houses all sorts of New York City ephemera, from old postcards featuring the Statue of Liberty to a vintage subway turnstile, as well as permanent exhibits on the history of burlesque in NYC and the 1939 World's Fair. The museum is also an active presence in the community, organizing special events (like a bike parade) and fund-raisers.
Nestled on the ground floor of the Forbes publishing headquarters in Greenwich Village, this toy trove maintains a low profile even among the most culturally savvy parents. Children can peer at the Forbes family’s personal collection of more than 500 toy boats, dating from the 1870s through the 1950s, and several thousand toy soldiers, from inch-high Aztecs battling Spanish conquistadors to jousting knights and battalions from various eras.
This branch of the Smithsonian Institution displays its collection around the grand rotunda of the 1907 Custom House, at the bottom of Broadway (which, many moons ago, began as an Indian trail). The life and culture of Native Americans is presented in rotating exhibitions—from intricately woven Pomo baskets to beaded buckskin shirts—along with contemporary artwork. The Diker Pavilion for Native Arts & Culture, which opened in 2006, has already made its mark on the cultural life of the city by offering the only dedicated showcase for Native American visual and performing arts.
Trace the history of U.S. immigration with a visit to the three floors of objects, photographs and interactive displays housed on the famous island next door to Lady Liberty herself. The exhibitions are an evocative, moving tribute to the people from so many countries, who made the journey to America filled with dreams for a better life. The $8 audio tour is highly informative and is available in nine languages. A new children’s audio tour is narrated by animal characters and is available in five languages.
Founded in the 1960s as the International Fund for Concerned Photography, ICP has work by photojournalists Werner Bischof, Robert Capa and Dan Weiner, all of whom were killed on assignment. Photojournalism remains an important part of the center’s program, which also includes contemporary photos and video. The two floors of exhibition space often showcase retrospectives devoted to single artists; recent shows have focused on the work of Sebastião Salgado, Weegee and Garry Winogrand.