Many people think of visiting museums as trips to view oil paintings or natural history artefacts. But New York City is home to museums that are truly out of the ordinary, ones that are unique to the city and to the culture of the city.

One is The Museum of Sex. A pop culture manifestation, this unusual museum explores the history and significance of human sexuality through art, print, film, and artefacts.

Researchers on human evolution and sexuality can access various libraries through the museum. Access to those 18 years old and above only.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is a reenactment of tenement life for immigrants who came to America, specifically ones who lived at 97 Orchard Street. This tenement building housed over 7000 immigrants and is now dedicated to preserving the rooms, details of daily life, and culture that developed there.

Guided tours of apartments are available as well as of the neighbourhood and the immigrant food culture of the Lower East Side.

Unusual Museums In New York City - Historical Society Museum

New York Historical Society – Image by nyhistory

The New York Historical Society is housed in a stately building on the West Side containing an impressive collection of all things New York, including historical photographs, paintings, books, drawings and sculpture. An interactive children’s museum makes it especially family friendly.

The Skyscraper Museum in Lower Manhattan is a sleek modern space which you can move through in under an hour. A visit will offer you the chance to follow a pictorial timeline of photographs and drawings depicting the evolution of skyscrapers in Manhattan. For architecture or history buffs, this little museum is a delightful find.

Unusual Museums In New York City - Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum – Image by ggnyc

On the upper East Side resides the lovely Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum which has a large collection of decorative arts including historic textiles, wall coverings, furniture, a resource library and gift shop.

Graphic artists, designers, art students, fashion and interior designers, or simply those who love the crafts will thoroughly enjoy this wonderful place.

One of the most stunning museums you can visit in the city is the National Museum of the American Indian on Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan. Located in the historic Alexander Hamilton Customs House, the museum exhibits all aspects of the history of the Indian in America.

There are rotating exhibits as well as a great little gift shop. Admission is free.

Unusual Museums In New York City - Holocaust Museum

Holocaust Museum – Image by Johnny Chi

A short walk away from the National Museum of the American Indian is the Holocaust Museum which is located in a striking contemporary building facing New York Harbor.

Take a self-guided walk through the museum by starting on the ground floor and working your way upstairs until you reach the peaceful Garden of Stones where you can sit and meditate or take pictures of the sweeping panorama of the city around you. Just inside there is a small restaurant and downstairs a large gift and book shop.

Although New York City is indeed the ultimate outdoor museum because of its architecture and art everywhere you walk, these few interesting examples will give you a sample of some of the indoor museums that make the city such a vibrant and diverse destination to visit.

Jennifer is a financial journalist and blogger. She spends most of her working day writing about finances, mortgages and tax reduction but what she really wants to do is write about travelling around America exploring weird and wonderful places.