New York Relics: The City Reliquary Museum

Photo by Keiko Niwa

Photo by Keiko Niwa

When the weather gets nasty, which let’s face it, will continue for the next three months, I like to take refuge in museums, where there’s rarely any windows and plenty to see inside, so I forget all about the Armageddon that is taking place outside. I’ve walked past the City Reliquary Museum on Metropolitan Avenue countless of times but for some reason never ventured inside, well when I finally did I kicked myself for waiting so long. As Ashley pointed out in her post yesterday, we often forget that New York has so much amazing history. It’s all about the next hot thing, and despite the changing boutiques and fusion restaurants that surround the museum, it stands as a reminder of what was.

From old subway tokens to maps of St.Marks place which was once Stuyvesant Farm, the Reliquary trades in unique relics of the past. Maybe not something you would find in a traditional history museum, but every kind of odds and ends of ephemera. One of my favorite parts of their regular collection is their exhibit on “Little Egypt”, the scandalous belly dancers who took on the stage name and introduced their risque dance form to America.

Besides their regular collection, the Reliquary rotates a special exhibition in the back room. The current one is all about “Miss Subways”, the yearly competition to pick the most beautiful commuter. Ads were placed in the trains with the contestants and riders voted on who they liked the best. The exhibit shows old and current photos of past winners some of whom are now lawyers, social workers, and famous restaurateur’s. They’ve even resurrected the contest this past November to vote for a new “Miss G Train”. It certainly gives you something better to look at then those creepy Halls ads.

The employees are delightfully nerdy in their knowledge in all things old New York. Matt Levy, their events coordinator, who help runs an all-family New York tour company, talked about the events the Reliquary hosts at the old World’s Fair grounds in Queens. One of which takes place at the largest panorama of New York which stretches for 9,335 ft and depicts all five boroughs. But that’s another post, for another time. So if you find yourself in Williamsburg, pop into the reliquary for a free time traveling experience.

Photos: Keiko Niwa, Johnny Transit, Queens Museum of Art

The City Reliquary Museum
370 Metropolitan Ave
Between Havemeyer & Marcy St [Williamsburg]
Admission: Donation Based

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About the author

Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S, left the "sixth borough" three years ago to settle in Brooklyn. After working at some daily rags, she now does writing on the side but still eats more Ramen then necessary. When she's not moving residences every 6 months, eating her way through every neighborhood, and trying every microbrew known to man, she is unsuccessfully rediscovering home economics. With her binging days behind her, she's now exploring new projects and rediscovering the city that she loves (although is still prone to sliding on her knees during a Prince karaoke set).