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Off The Beaten Path – 10 Alternatives To The MOMA And The Met

MoMA Reception
Reception attendees look at a work by Henri Matisse on display at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. (credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Sure, you've heard of (and probably been to) the MoMA and the Met, but Manhattan offers plenty of hidden gems when it comes to museums. Check out our list of top spots!

Tony Rosenthal's "Alamo" at Astor Place in New York City (credit:

The "Alamo" @ Astor Place

Lafayette & 8th Streets
New York, N.Y. 10079

If you've visited the K-Mart near the East Village or have taken the number 6 train down to Astor Place, you might have noticed a giant, steel cube perched precariously on its edge in the middle of traffic. That abstract piece of art is a sculpture by Tony Rosenthal called "Alamo" but fondly referred to as "the Cube." It was erected in 1967 and the 15x15x15 cube has been a hit ever since. It attracts skateboarders, has become a meeting place, a great shade from the scorching heat and a giant toy -- the "Alamo" spins if you've got the muscle to make it happen.

Isamu Noguchi's "Red Cube" in Manhattan. (credit:

Isamu Noguchi's "Red Cube"

140 Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10005

Although similar to Tony Rosenthal's piece, Isamu Noguchi's sculpture is not exactly what it sounds like -- it is red, but the shape isn't actually a cube. The structure, located in front of the HSBC Bank Building, is tilted on its edge with a cylindrical hole in the middle of its front side. Noguchi's faux-cube, erected in 1968, doesn't spin but it still pleases.

An installation at the Bodies...The Exhibition museum showing the muscular system. (credit:

Bodies...The Exhibition

11 Fulton Street
New York, N.Y. 10038-2115
(646) 747-5663

If you haven't managed to visit "Bodies...The Exhibition" at the South Street Seaport (Pier 17) -- what are you waiting for? The museum has more than 200 real human bodies and specimens that have been dissected and put on display to give visitors an intimate view of what the human body actually looks like and how it works. This exhibition is definitely not for the faint of heart. Ticket prices range from $20-$27 depending on age group.

The Museum of Sex (credit:

The Museum Of Sex

233 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016
(212) 689-6337

When the Museum of Sex opened in 2002 it understandably garnered much attention, with its mission to encourage dialogue about sex and sexuality. In addition to its permanent collection, the Museum of Sex has five additional exhibitions, some of which include "Sex Lives of Animals," "Rubbers" and "Sex Lives of Robots." Admission is $16.75 plus tax ($15.25 plus tax for students and seniors) and is for the 18 and over only crowd.

5Pointz Aerosal Art Center, Inc. in Long Island City. (credit:

5 Pointz: The Institute Of Higher Burnin'

45-46 Davis Street
Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
(317) 219-2685

5 Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc., around since 2001, is considered by many to be the world's grandest unofficial outdoor graffiti museum. The 5 Pointz industrial complex, so named for the five boroughs of New York City, attracts artists and oglers from all over the world and has been featured in many films, music videos and magazine shoots. The curator, Jonathan Cohen (aka "Meres One"), wants to convert the five-story complex into an official graffiti museum. (see more photos of 5 Pointz)

The Graffiti Hall of Fame in Harlem. (credit: Google Maps)

Graffiti Hall Of Fame

106th Street & Park Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10029

This hall of fame is actually a wall located at the home of hip-hop, Harlem, and features some of the most colorful and awe-inspiring images you'll find anywhere. Officially sanctioned as legal public art since 1982, the Graffiti Hall of Fame is only rivaled by 5Pointz in Long Island City. The wall encloses a playground at the Jackie Robinson Education Complex, so maybe you can bring the kids.

The "Pieces For Peace" mosaic wall at the Jacob H. Schiff Playground in New York City. (credit:

Pieces For Peace "Peace Wall"

Jacob H. Schiff Playground
138th Street & Amsterdam Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10031

CITYarts' "Pieces for Peace Mosaic with Youth from Around the World" is a wall that runs 213 feet around the Jacob H. Schiff Playground in Harlem. This collaborative mosaic involved community volunteers and youth from all around the world and is aimed at building bridges of cultural understanding specifically among the youth.

Duke Ellington sculpture by Robert Graham in Frawley Circle in Manhattan. (credit:

Public Art On The African-American Experience

This tour requires your walking shoes and a metro card as it's a compilation of several permanent outdoor sculptures across the boroughs.

Manhattan: "Duke Ellington" by Robert Graham, Frawley Circle, Fifth Avenue & 110th Street; "Invisible Man" by Elizabeth Catlett, Riverside Park @150th Street; "Jackie Robinson" bust by Inge Hardison, Jackie Robinson Recreation Center, 85 Bradhurst Avenue and 146th Street; "Swing Low: A Memorial To Harriet Tubman" by Allison Saar, Tubman Triangle, 123rd Street & St. Nicholas Avenue & Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

Brooklyn: D"r. Ronald McNair" by Ogundipe Fayomi, McNair Park @ Washington and Classon Avenues; "Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese" by William Behrends, Keyspan Park @ Coney Island.

Queens: "Little Dances" by Howard McCalebb, Louis Armstrong Community Center, 33-16 108th Street; "Soul in Flight" by Eric Fishl, United States Tennis Center @ Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Ann Schaumburger's "Urban Oasis" is seen at the Fifth Avenue/59th Street stop in Manhattan on the "N" line. (credit:

Arts For Transit

Many of these works are underground but are by no means subversive. These works created in mosaic, terra cotta, bronze, glass and mixed-media sculpture are all throughout the Metropolitan Transit Authority's public transportation system and are quite a treat. Check out the MTA's website to plot your Arts for Transit tour through the City's bridges, tunnels and railroads. Some artists include William Birch, Romare Bearden, R. M. Fischer and dozens of others. (Read more about underground art and music)

A United States Silver dollar is shown from the American Numismatic Society's exhibition, "Drachmas, Doublons and Dollars." (credit:

The Federal Reserve Bank Of New York

33 Liberty Street
New York, N.Y. 10005
(212) 720-6130

The American Numismatic Society and the Federal Reserve have teamed up to let patrons ogle funny money and pretty coinage to their heart's content with two curious exhibitions -- "Drachmas, Doubloons, and Dollars: The History of Money" and "Funny Money: The Fight of the U.S. Secret Service against Counterfeit Money." In "Drachmas, Doubloons, and Dollars" (which features one million types of currency) patrons may learn to appreciate that "every coin and paper bill can be a work of art, a political messenger, or a piece of jewelry." "Funny Money" (which runs through Dec. 31, 2010) features images from previously unseen Secret Service operations and examples of seized counterfeit currency. You may also want to visit the American Numismatic Society's website ( to see the full schedule of events and exhibits.

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