The bustling New York City encompasses the boroughs, including the city of Brooklyn. Brooklyn has a rich cultural and artistic heritage and allows you to have a good encounter with history and culture. It is popular for its dynamic population, diverse neighborhood, and rich art. This makes Brooklyn a center for artistic expression.
Amidst the exquisite exhibitions displayed in Manhattan, Brooklyn often finds itself overshadowed. This overshadowing occurs through the presentation of the rich history and art from all across the globe. Brooklyn holds so many museums and each is unique on its own. They display history and hold stories that have shaped Brooklyn and beyond.
The museum scene in Brooklyn goes above and beyond. There are historical museums that give you an immersive experience. World-class art exhibitions exist that will leave you in awe. Some museums talk about the greater legacy of New York City. All in all, a vast genre of art, history, and various other themes come together within the walls of Brooklyn’s museums.
Whether you are someone who just enjoys peace and tranquillity or loves art and history. Visiting the museums of Brooklyn is a wonderful opportunity. In this article, we talk about how art, culture, and history meet in Brooklyn to create a tapestry of experience.
1. Why are Museums in Brooklyn important?
Museums have a rich heritage. Visiting them is important to hold the connection with our past. It makes us realize how far the human world has come along. They show the incredible nature of human history.
Daily visits to museums for children can ignite their curiosity, fostering a deep interest in learning. Exploring museums not only nurtures intellectual curiosity but also cultivates cross-cultural understanding. Moreover, it plays a vital role in promoting tolerance and harmony within society.
Aside from this, museums also evoke a sense of community and belonging. These exhibitions make us realize that this shared history and art belong to everyone. It talks about the shared experience in all walks of life.
Kim Namjoon, leader of BTS, the most popular boy band in the world accurately describes art museums and the experience of visiting them. “I don’t like to divide the art world, but when I see the painters and visual artists, most of them get their fame after their death … their soul is a long time thing, a long period thing.”
He goes on to further state that when 300 different people see one piece of art, they all experience 300 different emotions.
To conclude, if you are visiting Brooklyn for the first time or you are looking for a fun activity to do, why not visit a museum? They are guardians of the past, the igniter of learning and innovation. Moreso, the visit will also provide you with a fun and fruitful experience.
Read this article if you want to visit museums outside of Brooklyn: Museums In Orlando – 7 Places To Visit
2. History of Museums in Brooklyn
The history of Brooklyn’s museums goes way back to the Dutch settlement to the present. Now, it has become a hub where art, music, history, innovation, and culture thrive. Brooklyn’s museum offers you a unique history. You can simply be an art lover or someone who enjoys history, or maybe just curious about the various facets of Brooklyn.
Visiting the museums of Brooklyn will transport you on an unexplainable beautiful journey. These historical places are vital pillars of preservation, culture, education, and history. Museums help us to provide insights into our traditions and civilization. If not for them, this knowledge might have faded away or remained unknown to the general population. This is achieved by displaying the rich history and art from all across the globe. It tells us, humans, about how art is a feeling that is shared by everyone around the world. All of this is what brings us together.
2.1 Early Beginnings of Museums in Brooklyn
Established in 1823, the Brooklyn Apprentice Library stands as a testament to its history. This was the precursor to the famous Brooklyn Library that we know today. It tells us about the history of how humans have always shared a passion for learning and knowledge-seeking.
2.2 Late 19th century and 20th Century the Museums in Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Museum of Arts and Science was originally founded in 1897. This was an important moment in Brooklyn’s cultural history and landscape. It was because, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Brooklyn Museum were all brought together under its umbrella.
1897 was also an important momentum in the history of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum opened its door this year. It became the first museum in Brooklyn to serve only kids and children. The establishment laid the foundation for interactive and educational experiences for children. This also helped inculcate curiosity in the young generation.
2.3 Mid-20th Century of Museums in Brooklyn
The New York Transit Museum was established back in 1954. It was a unique establishment. It talked about the growth, development, and impact public transport has had over the years in New York. This was a way to showcase as well preserve the history of transportation in New York.
2.4 Late 20th Century of Museums in Brooklyn
1968 saw the establishment of the Weeksville Museum. The Museum of Weeksville preserves the history of America’s first free black community.
2.5 21st-Century Renaissance of Museums in Brooklyn
In 2004, they established the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). As the title suggests, this was a platform for African present diaspora artists. It allows them to explore and display themes of fairness.
Brooklyn’sartime heritage is of utmost importance. They established the Waterfront Museum in 2008 to showcase its significance.
This brief recap of the history of the Museums of Brooklyn. Through this, you can see how humble beginnings turned into something of rich cultural importance.
3. Exploring the Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is a haven of cultural enrichment and treasure for art enthusiasts. It is a center that celebrates human creativity. It holds a kaleidoscope of collections. From Egyptian artifacts to European paintings and even the present work of a myriad of artists. You can travel back in time through the displays or watch the modern oresent works in awe.
Some of the past exhibitions that have been popular and notable are “Frida Khalo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving and “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” The first one talk about Frida Kahlo’s life and work. The latter is a retelling of the powerful impact of the Black Arts Movement in the context of American art and culture.
There are many notable exhibitions or displays you must visit when you go to this museum are listed in this section of the article.
3.1 Exhibitions at the Museums in Brooklyn: The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago
This is on feminism by artist Judy Chicago. It was during the years 1974-1979. The Dinner Party remains one of the first epic feminist installations. It is a symbol of celebration of the history of monumental, symbolic achievements of historical women. The installation has a triangular table and 39 place settings. This banquet table has place settings for 39 significant women. The goal of this installation was to display the rich heritage and culture of women’s contribution to history. 999 additional names are also inscribed on the table’s base. They made this base out of glazed porcelain.
3.2 Exhibitions at the Museums in Brooklyn: Egyptian Art
Brooklyn Museums holds one of the largest and finest collections of Museums art in its galleries. It includes a plethora of artifacts, from mummies to beautiful sculptures like the Bust of Goddess Sekhmet. The museum has more than 1200 objects in its collection. There is also the Mummy Chamber. There is a view of the 25 feet long scroll of the Book of the Dead.
3.3 Exhibitions at the Museums in Brooklyn: American Art
Visit the notable words from Edward Hopper and Gilbert Stuart’s portrait. The section on American arts explores the labor, abolition, and identity of the United States. There are many notable paintings installed here along with many sculptures as well as jewellery.
3.4 Exhibitions at the Museums in Brooklyn: Asian Art
The Brooklyn Museum has an impressive collection of Asian art from different parts of Asia. It holds artifacts from Japan, Korea, China, India, and also southeast Asia. It also holds collections from the Himalayas and arts about Buddhism.
They have the Head of the Guardian from Japan. They also have collections made by the Ainu people. The Ainu people are from the northern regions of Japan. The Japanese college also has many items made by present ceramic masters.
Brooklyn Museum also has many traditional items, home furnishing, arts, clothing, etc, that symbolize Korea.
The collection about China is from the Neolithic period to the present world. It reflects how China has evolved, in tradition, intellectually, politically, and religiously.
India has not gone unnoticed in the Brooklyn Museum. From early manuscripts to terracotta art, it highlights the culture and evolution of religion and culture in India. It also has Hindu and Jain sculptures. It also highlights the architecture and art elements of India.
3.5 Exhibitions at the Museums in Brooklyn: Period Rooms
You will travel back in time when you visit these period rooms. These rooms offer a glimpse into the different historical eras ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth century.
3.6 Exhibitions at the Museums in Brooklyn: Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
This is also another facility in this museum that is dedicated to feminist arts. It aims to educate people about the history as well as the future of feminism. This is the place that holds the installation of Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. It features rotating exhibitions and tells us stories about how feminist art has played a leading role in the art world. For the past forty years, feminist art has raised awareness and expanded the definition of art in all subject matters.
3.7 Exhibitions at the Museums in Brooklyn: European Art
A large number of paintings from the Europeans spans the Renaissance era to present 20th Century Art. There are three sections in which the European Art collections are divided. First, we have the Painting Land and Sea, this section explores the different types of methods used by the artists to paint, especially the backgrounds. Then we have Art and Devotion. This mainly focuses on how religion had an impact on the paintings. The paintings revolve around the depiction of the Catholic Faith. There is the Russian Modern/Русский Модерн. This focuses on how the then Soviet Union or Russia had an impact on European Art.
4. Children’s Museums in Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Museum for Children has been inspiring and igniting intellectual curiosity in children since 1899. It brings an immersive experience for kids, fostering a lifelong love for discovery in them.
The Children’s Museum of Brooklyn has one fixed philosophy. It abides by the rule that children learn best when they have hands-on experience and when they are learning through play. Therefore, they designed each activity in this museum in a way that gets young minds to interact. From multisensory experiences for toddlers that get to interact with science experiments to activities for older children that bring about critical thinking and creativity.
As years have passed and they have made many changes and renovations in the Museum. But the museum still follows its true vision and the core reason for its foundation: providing an encouraging environment to children of various age groups that will tailor to their development needs as well as help them love learning.
Read below to find out the plethora of activities the kids can engage in at Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum
4.1 World Brooklyn
World Brooklyn is a mini Brooklyn for kids. In World Brooklyn, children step into a miniature city. They designed Mini Brooklyn to display miniatures of various businesses in Brooklyn. Children explore various cultures, professions, and lifestyles. Imaginative play and role-play is a great way to provide an immersive experience to kids.
It fosters curiosity and helps to develop a sense of learning in the kids. In this world of mini Brooklyn, kids can become a designer or a baker, or even a builder! It helps children understand the variety of roles in society. It also fosters an appreciation of the community of Brooklyn. There is also a Mexican Bakery and other cultural stores. These foster cross-cultural understanding.
4.2 Totally Tots
Brooklyn Children’s Museum doesn’t ignore its young audience. This is a pint-sized paradise. It is specifically designed for its little visitors around the age of 0 to 6 years! The space keeps in mind the early developmental needs of these kids. As such, it aims to provide a variety of multisensory experiences to the kids. Tots have a total of nine sensory areas. It includes water, sand, music, etc.
The space offers these sensory experiences to stimulate early development. There is never a single kid at Totally Tots who leaves without a smile on their face.
4.3 Neighbourhood Nature
An exciting change to provide kids with one on one experience with nature. Neighbourhood Nature is a life science exhibit. Children here, get hands-on experience with animals, plants, and other various ecologies.
By hands-on experience, we mean that children get to explore textures, touch and examine feathers. They also learn about the life that lives on this planet Earth. The Museum also has a greenhouse and live animals, diorama habitats, and a cork garden. This is a unique and fun way to get children to interact with nature and foster an interest in life sciences.
5. The New York Transit Museums in Brooklyn
The New York Transit Museum is a unique establishment. They inaugurated it in 1976 at the decommissioned Court Street Subway. It is under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The unique fact about this station is that it is located or is a subway station. The original Subway station, called Court Street, served as a terminus for local trains. Due to its immense popularity, this museum was supposed to be open for only one year. But it remained in service to the public. Today, the New York Transit Museum is a way to display the iconic transportation system of the city and display the evolution of human civilization.
The vintage buses, cars, railways, etc are some of the notable attractions of this Museum. It includes dioramas of subways and other equipment of the past. These intrigue curiosity into the visitors.
Lectures and Seminars are also offered at the museum. Guided tours are also provided for all ages. All these services aim to educate the general public about the various facilities, history, architecture, etc. of the transportation system.
6. Museums in Brooklyn: The Weeksville Heritage Centre
Established in 1968, the Weeksville Museum preserves the black community and its history. The community at Weekville was some of the first free communities in America. It was one of the ways to preserve the legacy of its African American residents. Weeksville is an important site. This is because it is one of the last remaining historical sites of pre-Civil War African Americans. Hunterfly Road Historic District is one of the main attractions or exhibits of this heritage center.
This Heritage center focuses on tours, arts, literature, and preservation. Weeksville holds great historical importance. Particularly so, it was one of the first free black communities and played an active role in the abolishment movement. This is the movement that was active from the colonial era. It went all the way till the American civil war took place. The American Civil War’s end abolished slavery in America. The thirteenth Amendment amended the United States Constitution
The black community at Weeksville developed and flourished. They published the first African-American Newspaper, built their own churches, schools, and old age homes, etc. This community also offered refuge to the fleeing African Americans from Manhattan during the New York Draft Riots.
7. The City Reliquary Museum in Brooklyn
The location of the City Reliquary Museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It displays an amazing collection of artifacts, relics, and memorabilia. These five boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.
The museum has many rotating exhibits. If you plan to visit this museum in the future, make sure that you check their website as they hold many annual cultural events.
The City Reliquary of Brooklyn started in 2002. Stories say that the founder of this museum Dave Herman had a ground-floor apartment in Williamsburg. He used to display objects that were quirky and intriguing for the passersby. Sooner or later, Dave Herman started receiving donations from others, who had their relics and artifacts to share with the city residents! The collection and donation kept growing and soon this was something greater. Dave Herman opened the collection at Greater Avenue.
The collections at the City Reliquary Museum of Brooklyn are carefully curated. The reliquary displays antique postcards and vintage tokens people used for subways. There are several souvenirs and street art there too.
8. The Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn
It aims to raise awareness about the Jewish community. Exhibits are designed for educational awareness, fostering tolerance, and entertainment purposes. The museum utilized an interactive museum to accomplish this. Miniature Golf Course is the perfect example of this. Each hole on the golf course symbolizes a Jewish life stage.
Crown Heights Riots in 1991 led to the founding of the Museum. These riots were a result of clashes between two communities where orthodox Jewish residents were attacked and their businesses were looted. The museum, therefore, aims to spread better understanding, cross-cultural awareness, and tolerance among youngsters. Heart of Crown Heights hosts the Jewish Children’s Museum, a dynamic spot for celebrating traditions, values, and the Jewish community.
There is a Noah Ark playground. It is a place where children can have fun while at the same time learning about Noah and the animals. One of the fun bits in this museum is a fun playground where children step into a playful adventure.
The Living Torah Workshop holds activities such as writing Hebrew with quills, making mezuzah cases, or baking challah. This is a great activity as it provides hands-on experience with Jewish customs to the children.
There is also a stimulation of the Kosher Market! This allows children to get knowledge about dietary laws!
9. Museums in Brooklyn: Lesbian Herstory Archives
The Lesbian Herstory Archives aims to preserve lesbian history. It holds one of the largest collections about and from lesbians. Least to say, it is a testament to the rich and diverse history of queer people. Society often marginalizes and overlooks stories about the LGBTQIA+ community Therefore, individuals established this museum for this very purpose. The purpose is to become a vital collection of artifacts, untold stories, and documents that history erases or overlooks.
Lesbian Herstory Archives gives everyone a space to build a community, to belong, to feel acknowledged, and to feel empowered.
Joan Nestle and Deborah Edel organized a group to discuss the sexism prevalent within the organization and this was the starting point. It led to the foundation of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. They were the vision of preserving the stories of lesbians for the coming generation.
The archive aims to preserve the stories of lesbians written from the feminist perspective. The libraries aimed to prevent these stories or “Herstory” from getting lost or retold from a patriarchal point of view. Therefore, the motto of this place is “in memory of the voices we lost.”
Joan Nestle, the founder elaborated on the aim of these archives by stating, “The roots of the Archives lie in the silent voices, the love letters destroyed, the pronouns changed, the diaries carefully edited, the pictures never taken, the euphemized distortions that patriarchy would let pass.”
9.2 Collections and Exhibits
The Lesbian Herstory Archives holds letters, diaries, photographs, videos, and even periodicals. It has the Red Dot Collection. The library of the NYC chapter of Daughters of Bilitis is also located here. The collection holds everything, from protest signs to zines. This is evidence of the history of struggle the queer community has gone through for visibility.
Some of the famous collections that are held at this archive include the Marge MacDonald Special Collection, the materials from the L world productions, and even Mabel Haptom’s lesbian pulp fiction collection.
10. Museums in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Art and Historical Center
Artist Yuko Nii founded the non-profit center, the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center. It is a space for a diverse community of artists. This center aims to bridge the gap between international, local as well as rookie artists, artists from diverse disciplines, etc.
The Williamsburg Art and Historical Center has connections with many international institutions. Therefore, it gives you room for artistic discourse. The center widens one’s perspective on present art and culture.
11. Coney Island Museum in Brooklyn
Coney Island hosts one of Brooklyn’s most captivating museums—the Coney Island Museum. Nestled in the charming ambiance of Coney Island, this museum focuses exclusively on presenting the historical significance of Coney’s iconic boardwalk. Delve into the intriguing offerings surrounding this renowned amusement park. The exhibits feature an array of fascinating artifacts, including the peculiar funhouse mirror, a retired vintage bumper car, forgotten and unearthed items left behind by beachgoers, and more.
Another engrossing display is the “Five Thousand Dollar Dreamland,” a collaborative effort with the New York Transportation Museum. It stands out as a beloved gem among New York’s finest museums in Brooklyn.
12. Bushwick Collective: The Best Free Art Museum in Brooklyn
The Bushwick Collective stands as a premier open-air art museum in Brooklyn, offering a truly distinct and exhilarating artistic experience. Situated within the vibrant and creative enclave of Bushwick, this outdoor gallery showcases a diverse array of works crafted by local, regional, and international street artists.
The Collective has profoundly influenced the graffiti art landscape, sparking inspiration among fellow creators. While strolling along the Troutman Street corridor and Jefferson Street, visitors are greeted by walls adorned with a vibrant spectrum of colors, juxtaposed with poignant black-and-white imagery complemented by whimsical pieces.
Among the notable artists, some are widely recognized as “Banksy” and “rats,” contributing to the intriguing and captivating atmosphere. Undoubtedly, the Brooklyn Bushwick Collection stands as the epitome of a cost-free, top-tier art museum within the borough.
In conclusion, the museums in Brooklyn offer a diverse and captivating journey into the heart of history, culture, and innovation. From the immersive storytelling at the Jewish Children’s Museum, which celebrates traditions and values, to the empowering LGBTQIA+ Archive that stands against erasure, these museums embody the power of representation and awareness.
Brooklyn’s museums serve as bridges between the past and the present, fostering understanding, tolerance, and appreciation for the diverse narratives that shape our world. As these institutions continue to evolve and adapt, they stand as proof to the human spirit’s endless pursuit of knowledge, creativity, and connection.
So, whether you’re a history enthusiast or an art lover. Or simply someone seeking to be inspired, the museums of Brooklyn beckon, promising an enriching and enlightening experience for all who enter their doors.