City Reliquary – Brooklyn, New York - Atlas Obscura

City Reliquary

Behind a bodega is a small museum of relics and ephemera showcasing the history of New York. 


When longtime collector Dave Herman began displaying his collection of vintage Statue of Liberty souvenirs and found objects in the windows of his ground floor apartment in Brooklyn, he quickly developed a following of curious fans. When neighbors and passersby began to donate objects of similar interest, Herman realized it was time to expand to a new location, and the City Reliquary was born.

Utilizing a traditional red, yellow, and blue bodega-style canopy, the City Reliquary is almost hidden in plain sight. Many visitors discover the museum by accident. When they enter, they are often in awe of the diverse collection of items detailing the cultural history of New York City.

A shrine to baseball legend Jackie Robinson is only a few feet away from an interactive exhibit on burlesque star Little Egypt. Cornerstones from demolished buildings and cobblestones from long-gone streets are displayed alongside natural specimens such as schist and stalactites. A gargoyle with a twisted expression on his face stands in contrast to the refined pose displayed in a bust of Teddy Roosevelt.

The collection also includes a light bulb from the Statue of Liberty’s torch, a mourning drape from the city hall balcony used for a 9/11 memorial, World’s Fair memorabilia, a diorama recreating a traditional barbershop, an authentic newsstand, and classic neon restaurant signs, among many other items.

The City Reliquary also hosts film screenings, lectures, and workshops. A space for rotating exhibits is used to display everything from conceptional art to historical exhibitions. A Community Collections space houses items on loan from members of the local community, the youngest curator having been six years old. 

Know Before You Go

The City Reliquary is open from Thursday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. By subway, you can take the G train to Metropolitan Ave., L train to Lorimer St., or the JMZ trains to Marcy Ave. The Q59 or Q54 buses also drop you off at the museum. Visit the website or call (718) 782-4842 for information on upcoming exhibits and events.

Community Contributors
Andres Schiffino
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