City Reliquary – Brooklyn, New York - Atlas Obscura

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City Reliquary

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


After your trip to New York, no one is going to ask you if you saw the coffee cups featured in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. But, you can tell them you saw it anyway and watch their eyes light up during your description of the City Reliquary.

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.

With a permanent collection of odd New York mementos like subway rat bones, the Reliquary also features a revolving exhibit of quirky community finds.

That means that it is not limited to coffee cups, but coins, trinkets, ephemera, and anything else the organization finds interesting enough to put on display. Visitors will find Statue of Liberty postcards, terracotta fragments of landmark buildings, subway tokens, geological core samples, paint chips from the L train platform, and other New York City artifacts.

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 museum began as a window display in founder Dave Herman’s Williamsburg apartment on the corner of Havemeyer and Grand Streets. Herman painted directions to nearby landmarks and subways on the side of his apartment. The museum later relocated a few blocks to its current location where the collection kept growing.

For locals, a trip back many times will never disappoint or leave you bored.

Know Before You Go

Accessible from L Train at Bedford Avenue Station

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February 25, 2012

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