Every time I go home to NYC, I try find to find something new to do and, when I read about the Houdini Museum via the excellent and esoteric Scouting NY, I knew I had to check it out for myself.
The museum is part of Fantasma Magic, a magic supply store tucked away on the 3rd floor of 421 7th Ave. Perhaps the best part of my visit was eavesdropping on the staff talking shop about trends in contemporary magic in the US versus Europe. Weird!
This almost seems like a prop from Arrested Development:
During the course of his professional career, Harry Houdini was publicly challenged many times:
This is the “punishment suit” mentioned in the above letter from an Ohio sheriff. Houdini successfully escaped from it in 1916:
In 1907, Houdini was challenged by the Boston Athletic Association to escape from a coffin that was nailed shut, while he himself was manacled:
For the design junkie, there’s a ton of vintage ephemera:
An X-ray of Houdini’s hand with a bullet lodged in it:
The Houdini Museum displays several hundred props, photographs, posters, letters, and other rare collectibles. Most of the collection is [obviously] devoted to Houdini, but there are a few other interesting pieces on view as well. And, the place is free and open 7 days/week.
Confusingly, there’s another Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA.