In 1929, three highly regarded patrons of the arts joined forces to found an institution that would break away from the conservative archetype of an art museum. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss, and Mary Quinn Sullivan could hardly have guessed that their mutual brainchild—The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMa—would someday transform into an archetype all its own. The museum’s original director, Alfred H. Barr Jr., moved to create the first-ever multidepartmental structure, with various departments devoted to architecture and design, film and video, and photography. These were in addition to the standard painting, sculpture, and visual-arts exhibits found in nearly every other museum to date. The public’s response was overwhelmingly positive. After outgrowing two spaces, MoMA moved to its Midtown location, where it stands to this day. MoMA’s initial gift of eight prints and one drawing has exploded to encompass a collection of more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photos, and design pieces. This collection continues to offer a wide-angle view into modern art and has spilled over into a massive library that houses more than 300,000 volumes. Every day, art lovers from around the world make their way through the museum’s structure, stopping at galleries that house iconic works by Picasso, Bourgeois, Warhol, Rauschenberg, and others. A constant influx of exhibitions keeps MoMA’s many walls alive in the spirit of its progressive founders.
Once every three years, the curators at New York's International Center of Photography set out on a mission to encapsulate the world. They scour every corner of the globe to collect the most interesting video and photography. The end result is an exhibit that reveals the Earth at present—its economic conditions, political instabilities, and social mores. The museum's other gallery spaces surround their visitors in works from the 19th century to modern day, offering windows into every era since Santa invented cameras as a new Christmas toy. These ever-changing exhibits showcase everything from evolving fashions to countries in the midst of full-blown revolution.
Hidden behind theses photographs' imagery, lies the minds of brilliant visual artists. Some of these masters speak at the The Photographers Lecture Series, a staple of the museum's research center since 1974. During these events, distinguished photographers discuss their work and how photography fits into the worlds of art, fashion, and journalism. The ICP's Library delves into these worlds even further with thousands of photobooks, periodicals, and digital files.
ICP's faculty also nurtures emerging artists. Together, they lead more than 400 continuing education courses, exploring areas such as digital photography and video. And for the most serious students, they offer a one-year certificate program and an MFA program.
In the 19th century, the Tenderloin district of New York City lured visitors with bordellos, dance halls, and saloons. These days, the area houses the Museum of Sex, which explores the historical and cultural significance of the types of human sexuality considered taboo in the Tenderloin era. The more than 15,000 sexual artifacts in the museum's permanent collection include vintage vibrators, period photography, and copies of Playboy's predecessor, Philandering Archduke. Rotating exhibitions also delve into current sexual scholarship; past exhibits have explored the history of condoms, sexuality in 1930s comics, and Japanese erotic art.
After exploring the museum's galleries, visitors can reenergize with a bite or a drink from the museum's in-house bar, which blends traditional aphrodisiacs into cocktails and housemade sodas. Suggestively named edibles are also available in the museum's store, alongside artwork and contraceptives. For further education, visitors can peruse the events calendar to sign up for classes offering sex tips.
Unlike more traditional museums, Discovery Times Square does much more than simply display artifacts. The space, located in the building once occupied by the New York Times printing presses, encourages visitors to learn through interactive, sensory exhibits. Past shows have taken guests inside the Titanic’s final wreck site, Da Vinci’s ingenious inventions, and the vast collection of riches and bandages owned by King Tut. The Discovery Times Square shop features games, DVDs, and other Discovery Channel products, as well as sweet treats from the DC Cupcakes Café and Georgetown Cupcake.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square winds visitors through twisted halls housing more than 500 artifacts of whimsy, amazement, curiosity, and intrigue. Along self-guided tours of the Odditorium, groups of awestruck wanderers gaze upon a two-headed cow, an albino giraffe, and the skeleton of a giant crocodile while perusing more than 20 themed galleries. Pickled heads stare out of jars and medieval torture devices such as dot-matrix printers hang from the ceiling while an authentic hunk of the Berlin wall stands in remembrance of the time it got to meet David Hasselhoff. Among the more than one dozen new artifacts are a portrait of Lady Gaga made out of crayons, a World Trade Center memorial made from more than 47,000 matchsticks, the fastest walking tour of NYC, and a newly-designed Babe Ruth theatre with plenty of sports memorabilia.
Outside, beneath the marquee, guests witness the antics of performers swallowing swords, breathing fire, and pushing the limits of the human body. Back inside, guests navigate Ripley’s laser maze, contorting and slithering through a room crisscrossed with green lasers. The playhouse of eccentricities—a birthday-party hot spot—and its Odd Shop stock enough insect candy and one-eyed stuffed canines to feed a pet clown for months.
For more than 200 years, Madame Tussaud and her museums have delighted the masses with impressively detailed and meticulously maintained wax renditions of celebrities, musicians, political figures, and sports stars. For the special Halloween event, the museum turns off the lights to the mannequin menagerie and blurs the line between living and dead with the addition of live actors that seamlessly blend in with the paraffin personages. As you walk the halls, the actors wait for the right opportunity to surprise unsuspecting visitors by jumping out and reading popular Garfield comic strips.