Leave the Teva-footed throngs at American Museum of Natural History and the Met behind. Here are a few lesser-known gems for you to pass the time.

Louis Armstrong House

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

In 1943, Louis Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, moved to a home on a quiet block in Corona, Queens, where they resided the rest of their lives. Now their home functions as a museum, displaying many of the rooms exactly as the Armstrongs lived in them. To the visitor, it feels like a time-warp. Expertly curated tours take the visitor through this small but bustling museum, illuminating not only the triumphs of a jazz legend but also the Queens community that Armstrong adopted in his later years. Stop and admire the trumpet that King George V bestowed on Armstrong, or enjoy a summertime jazz concert in the Japanese-inspired garden.

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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Louis Armstrong House
34-56 107th Street, Corona, Queens
(718)-478-8274
Tuesday-Friday: 10am-5pm; Saturday-Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Museum shown through guided 40-minute tours; tours begin every hour starting on the hour.
Admission: $10; Seniors, Students, Children: $7; Member s and Children under 4: Free.

Lewis H. Latimer House Museum

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

Built between 1887 and 1889, the Queen Anne-style Victorian home of inventor Lewis H. Latimer is an anomaly in its location between high rises in Flushing. The son of former slaves, Latimer became Thomas Edison’s chief draftsman, and played a crucial role in the development of the telephone. Latimer also patented the carbon filament, which led to the electric light bulb as we know it now. Latimer lived in house from 1903 until he died in 1928. Inside, the house museum explores the inventor's extraordinary accomplishments, highlights other African-American scientists and inventors, and hosts exhibits on life in Queens during different eras.

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

Lewis H. Latimer House Museum
34-41 137th Street, Flushing, Queens 11354
(718)-961-8585
Call for public hours and events

The City Reliquary, Museum and Civic Organization

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)


The City Reliquary, located in Williamsburg, is a small museum that displays collections of New York City ephemera through the ages. In many ways, the reliquary is an ode to collectors, as reliquaries are traditionally vessels to store religious relics. Walk into the storefront reminiscent of a Brooklyn bodega and come face to face with cohesive collections of artifacts including Brooklyn seltzer bottles, soil from all five boroughs, Worlds Fair paraphernalia, subway tokens, and pieces of granite from well-known buildings, to name a few. Anticipate overstimulation: there’s a lot packed into a small space.

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

The City Reliquary, Museum and Civic Organization
370 Metropolitan Ave. Brooklyn
718-782-4842
Thurs - Sun 12-6 PM
$5 suggested donation

Proteus Gowanus

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

Entering Proteus Gowanus feels special, even a bit illicit, as the visitor has to wander down an unmarked alleyway that leads to the interdisciplinary gallery space. The museum wears many hats: the gallery itself maintains rotating exhibitions, and the space also houses a number of projects-in-residence that are interdisciplinary and unique to the city. The Reanimation Library constitutes an ongoing collection of books that are considered outdated and have been gathered as a visual inspiration collection for visiting artists and writers. The Hall of Gowanus is a room of maps, artifacts, and art all centering on the history of the Gowanus Canal as well as its current status as a Superfund site. The Fixers Collective is an experiment in “improvisational mending” that meets monthly.

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

Proteus Gowanus
718-427-2200
Free Entry (Donations Encouraged)
543 Union Street (at Nevins)
Thursday & Friday, 3-6 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 12-6 pm

Lefferts Historic House Museum

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

Built by a Dutch family in the 18th century farming village of Flatbush, Lefferts Historic House interprets the history of Brooklyn’s landscape from pre-colonial times until the present. The house is situated a few steps into Prospect Park across from the Carousel in the Children’s Corner. The house serves primarily as an educational tool for local Brooklyn children, allowing them to try their hands at growing flax (intended for cloth), exacting water from a traditional water pump, or playing a classic game with hoop and stick. The museum isn’t only for children, though, with thoughtful period rooms as well as exhibits that round out the visitor’s sense of what Brooklyn was like when it was inhabited by Dutch farmers. The house museum presents a substantive opportunity for a focused look back in time.

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

Lefferts Historic House Museum
452 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn
718-789-2822
July 3-September 1, 2014: Thursday-Sunday 12-6pm
September 4-November 2, 2014: Thursday-Sunday, 12-5pm
$3 suggested donation


Morbid Anatomy Museum

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

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(Rebekah Burgess Abramovich / Gothamist)

The Morbid Anatomy Museum and Library was originally a project-in-residence stemming from Proteus Gowanus. However, last month the organization took on a life of its own and expanded into a three-story space at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 7th Street in Brooklyn. Basing its collections, exhibitions, and public programing on historical medical museums and cabinets of curiosities, the library brings together information on art, medicine, death and culture. Sip wine at a lecture on ancient Egyptian oracles or explore Victorian mourning photographs in a current exhibit.

More photos here.

Morbid Anatomy Museum
424A 3rd Avenue (at 7th Street), Brooklyn
Wednesday through Sunday, 12-6 PM and for public lectures
Free Entry (Donations Encouraged)

Rebekah Burgess Abramovich, PhD, is the Collections Management Coordinator of the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has been exploring the small museums and historical collections of New York City over the past twenty years.