5 Brooklyn Museums You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
1) We bet you know about the Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan’s Museum Mile. Maybe you know about the Children’s Museum in Crown Heights, which was the first of it’s kind in America. What happens when you put em together? The Jewish Children’s Museum, also in Crown Heights! This five-story, multi-media based museum is on Eastern Parkway, aka Brooklyn’s Museum Mile, directly across from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic World Headquarters. This Orthodox movement is the largest Jewish organization in the world and they sponsor the Museum as part of their spirited outreach to Jews and gentiles alike.
Over 180,000 visitors of all ages and faiths have made the pilgrimage since it opened in 2005. Exhibits include the 6 days of creation, the “Spiel of Fortune” and a giant (inedible) challah. An interactive crafts workshop allows the opportunity to make your own tzedakah (charity) boxes; a 180-degree theater offers an inside look at the central themes of Jewish thought and a rooftop mini golf course goes through the six major events of Jewish Life. Betcha I can make my Bar Mitzvah a hole-in-one! Come in April for the grand opening of their new exhibit, a Voyage Through Jewish History! The Jewish Children’s Museum is located at 792 Eastern Parkway at the corner of Kingston Avenue.
2) Scott Witter, the curator and sole employee of Brooklyn’s Other Museum of Brooklyn, is highly protective of his collection of artifacts. B.O.M.B. is a museum of found art, comprising relics from Brooklyn’s yester-years, with a sheen of hard-left political activity, decrying “Mayor Moo-Moo” and his “theft of Brooklyn’s heritage,” particularly the historic buildings of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Widder is devoted to getting in the way of the Bloomberg administration’s plan to wipe out the aforementioned 150 year old structures and build a 75,000 sq ft supermarket plus an additional 160,000 sq ft retail development plus industrial development.
Scott finds a lot of relics on his walks to Coney Island and Gravesend Bay with Dashi, his adorable mutt. Sometimes he makes it out to Arthur Kill, the waterway between Staten Island and New Jersey to investigate a scuttled shipwreck. Is it art? Is it junk? Whatever you call it, its a museum that is first and foremost dedicated to the preservation and landmarking of Admiral’s Row. If you want to sign a petition to support this cause visit their website or go to 109 Hall Street between 7 & 9pm on Tuesdays or make an appointment.
3) The Micro Museum is an esoteric art museum, smack-dab in the middle of a very active stretch of Smith Street for over 25 years. Artists from all over the country have exhibited their work here. They’ve been adding new pieces all the time, and as the colorful & eccentric founder Kathleen Laziza says “People are always coming to find the micro changes.”
Multi-media quirkiness is prominently displayed, from furniture that tells stories when touched, to a stair-master that screens video art of people blowing kisses at the user (the most perfect exercise machine in the world!) Interactively overloaded, this museum is definitely for all ages. The founding artists – Kathleen and her husband Will – are present and willing to chat about their collections every Saturday from 5 to 7pm. The Micro Museum is located at 123 Smith Street and is open to the public most Saturdays from noon till 7pm.
4) Okay, you may have heard of the next museum because we promote it so damn often. We even raised $4000 for it at the 5th Annual Panorama Challenge! The City Reliquary is the most civic of organizations and very close to the heart of LUNY! (Matt is the Vice President.) Exhibiting cultural relics of forgotten New York, pieces of famous buildings and community collections of all stripes, they also throw some bangin’ events. From low-key craft nights to magic workshops to cocktail soirees, there’s something goin down every third Thursday of the month.
The most recent exhibit features the work of Enrique Miguel Thomas whose deep connection to the subway system is displayed on the subway maps he “improves” with sharpie and watercolor. “New York City Above and Below: Works by Plein Art Artist Enrico Miguel Thomas” is open along with other collections from 12pm to 6pm every Saturday and Sunday. The City Reliquary is located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue.
5) Saving the best for last, Building 92 is a bit under the radar for a simple reason. It’s not hidden inside someone’s house; it’s not self-described as esoteric and it doesn’t play to any religious niche. It’s only 4 months old! Housed partially in a former Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Commandant’s House built in 1801 and partially in a new platinum LEED certified structure, this museum is fully devoted to the past, present and future of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
This isn’t your staid history museum. In addition to a maritime history timeline, there is an awesome interactive, time-lapse, birds-eye-view map of the Wallabout Bay Area; it goes through 400 years of history in five minutes!
From the most important ship building factory in America during WWII to today’s diverse tenants of the Navy Yard as industrial park; from the sets of Saturday Night Live to the Crye Precision factory that produces bulletproof vests to des, today’s Brooklyn Navy Yard is impressively dynamic.
Building 92 puts a real focus on the community. The building contains an employment center that partners with the Brooklyn Workforce Initiative. They offer workshops, classroom space, bus and even bike tours of the Yard coming up in the summertime. Admission is free at Building 92 between 12pm to 6pm Wednesday through Saturday. It’s at 63 Flushing Avenue. See you at the Museums!
By Jonah Levy