Beyond the hallowed shelves and exhibits of the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Public Library are a host of lesser-known borough purveyors displaying various offbeat, even nefarious, books and objects.
Below, a list of some of Brooklyn’s smaller libraries and museums which, unlike many attractions in the borough, have for the most part remained below the radar.
1. Brooklyn Art Library: An art-based reading room in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Art Library is home to The Sketchbook Project, a crowd-sourced library featuring more than 33,898 artists’ books. It also supports a digital library and a roving mobile library housed in a shelf-lined truck.
103A North 3rd Street in Williamsburg. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Free.
2. Brooklyn Historical Society: The world-renowned Brooklyn Historical Society has holdings that span more than 33,000 books, 1,200 oral history interviews and 8,000 artifacts. It also includes the Othmer Library reading room, where among wooden columns and stained glass windows you’ll find an extensive collection of texts, maps, and exhibitions on Brooklyn and its history.
128 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights. Museum: 12-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Library: 1-5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission rates are suggested.
3. The Morbid Anatomy Museum: Small but specific, the Morbid Anatomy Museum features a strange collection of well curated bones and other oddities for those interested in the representation of death over the ages. In addition to their macabre miscellanea, the museum also hosts a series of events and lectures on a range of topics, from bat skeletons to Walt Whitman.
424 3rd Ave in Gowanus. Open 12-6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and free for children under 12.
4. Interference Archive: Another small Gowanus library space, the Interference Archive consists of an open stacks collection exploring social movements and cultural production. The library also hosts a study center as well as public programs, exhibitions, workshops and screenings in the name of creative engagement with history.
131 8th Street No. 4 in Gowanus. Open 1-9 p.m. Thursday, 12-5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Free.
5. City Reliquary: This quirky hole-in-the-wall community museum and civic organization has a permanent display of assorted New York City artifacts and rotating exhibits created through local collaboration. Overflowing with Brooklyn stories told through a diverse array of doodads and thingamabobs, some histories are more obviously connected to their object than others.
370 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg. Open 12-6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. $5 for general admission, $4 for students, educators, and teachers, and free for children.
6. Mellow Pages Library: An indie lending library, Mellow Pages houses a collection of more than 4,000 donated titles of small and independent press titles. The quaint neighborhood book operation was founded in 2013 by Matt Nelson and Jacob Perkins.
603 Bushwick Avenue in Bushwick. Open 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free.
7. Waterfront Museum: The sole remaining all-wooden Hudson River Railroad Barge still afloat and open to the public, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge Number 79 is docked just off Pier 44 in Red Hook. A maritime history museum, the century-old barge serves dual purposes as a waterfront museum and an historic artifact.
290 Conover Street at Pier 44 in Red Hook. Open 4-8 p.m. Thursday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Free.
8. Harbor Defense Museum: Located at Brooklyn’s watery edge, the Harbor Defense Museum is seated in one of Fort Hamilton’s freestanding bastions in the fort’s dry moat. Inside, visitors will discover a trove of accoutrements from Fort Hamilton and other historical objects dating from the 18th century to present day.
Fort Hamilton Parkway and 101 Street at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Bay Ridge. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free.
9. Williamsburg Art & Historical Center: Founded in 1996 by Yuko Nii, the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH) was created with the purpose of bridging artists of all walks and disciplines. Housed in a landmarked French Second Empire stunner, WAH’s rotating exhibits feature everything from contemporary LGBTQ artist’s work about the queer community to sculptures of personified dogs.
135 Broadway in Williamsburg. Open 12-6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Free.
10. Coney Island Museum: From a scale model of the original Luna Park to thermoses dating back to the ’50s and ’60s, the Coney Island Museum records and honors over 100 years of amusement park madness. As strange and absurd as the park itself, the museum and its collections are lovingly decayed, dated but ephemeral in all their faded funhouse glory.
1208 Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day from 12-7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 2-7 p.m. Sunday. $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, children under 12, and residents of zip code 11224.
11. Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA): Through both rotating exhibits and events programming, MoCADA is dedicated to documenting and reimagining the African Diaspora, its social and political aspects and the ongoing dialogue it produces.
80 Hanson Place. Open 12-7 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 12-8 p.m. Thursday, and 12-6 p.m. Sunday. $8 for adults, $4 for seniors, $4 for students and free for children under 12.
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