**NOTE: On September 19, 2015 the Staten Island Museum will move to a new location. To get to the new location from the Staten Island Ferry terminal, you will need to take the S40 bus along Richmond Terrace for 1.7 miles and exit at Snug Harbor.
You probably have not heard of the Staten Island Museum. The museum is not very big and can easily be seen in an hour or two. Its claim to fame is that it is the only general interest museum in NYC. You may wonder what a general interest museum is. Well it is a collection of very random exhibits.
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Staten Island Museum Permanent Collection
The ground floor of the museum houses what I would assume to be the permanent collection. There was an exhibit on the Staten Island Ferry. The exhibit was interesting and contained a lot of historical information about ferries and also the recent accidents. Also, you can see the “Diver Man” which is a restored suit that would allow repairment to work underwater on the ferry for up to eight hours.
They also had some nice shells on display, even a few from Staten Island. There was also a nice exhibit about glow in the dark rocks hidden in the back corner. Also, there was the collection of totally random things – a four-legged chicken, hairball from a cow’s stomach, and “other things someone thought were interesting enough to pick up and bring back to a museum”.
Civil War Pinhole Project
The upstairs is for special exhibits and when we went it was the Civil War Pinhole Project. Michael Falco used a pinhole camera to capture remarkable images from the reenactment of Civil War battles. A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a lens and with a single small aperture (a pinhole) – so basically a box with a small hole.
Pinhole cameras are very simple and cheap to make if you’re inspired by the idea of trying it out, here are some good instructions to make one. How this pinhole camera was able to create the amazing pictures is beyond my comprehension.
He traveled for 4 years and through a dozen states and actually became a re-enactor himself. The project was recently recognized by the Library of Congress and has become a part of the permanent collection at the National Archive on the Civil War Sesquicentennial (150 year anniversary) and when you visit you will see why. The photos are beautiful and if you didn’t know better you might think the photos were actually taken during the Civil War. The artist wrote a blog about his learnings from the project. This was an impressive exhibit definitely worth the trip, especially if you are interested in photography or history. The exhibit will be there through April 2016.
Taking the Staten Island Ferry
So you may be wondering how to get to this museum. The best way is to take the Staten Island Ferry, which is free and runs very regularly. The journey takes about 30 minutes. You can catch the ferry from the southern tip of Manhattan, just take the subway to the South Ferry or Whitehall Station and you will be right there at the ferry terminal.
The Staten Island ferry is actually a tourist attraction in itself. I suggest going on it during your first trip to New York City. Don’t forget your camera. The Staten Island Ferry views make the journey worthwhile.
You will pass right by the Statue of Liberty on the right side of the boat on the way there. From the back of the boat, you will get an excellent view of lower Manhattan and the Freedom Tower. Taking the Staten Island ferry at night is a great way to see the Manhattan skyline all lit up.
The information booth inside the ferry terminal had brochures with a 2-for-1 coupon for the museum. (Admission to the museum is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are free. The Staten Island Museum is also part of the New York Pass). They also offer free admission on Tuesdays from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm.
Another option for visiting the Staten Island Museum would be to combine it with a walking tour like this one. You get to explore some of downtown Manhattan before going to the museum.
Note for NYC residents: If you have an NYC ID, your membership to the museum is free if you join in person by the end of 2015. Memberships to the Staten Island Museum start at $35 and gives you reciprocal memberships at 20 other NY state museums. If you haven’t gotten your NYC ID, you should, this is only one of the 20+ museums that offers a free membership.
Have you ever visited a general interest museum?
Expert Tips for the Staten Island Ferry and the Staten Island Museum
- Check out the Civil War Pinhole Project exhibit before it ends in April 2016.
- Take the Staten Island free Ferry and get a nice view of the Statue of Liberty.
- Pick up a 2-for-1 coupon for the Staten Island Museum at the information booth in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
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