The Merchant’s House Museum

There’s a building on 4th Street in Lower Manhattan that is a museum. It doesn’t really look like a museum. Not when you’re standing there in front of it and mentally comparing it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Guggenheim, but it was well worth the time I spent inside looking around. It takes about an hour and a half or two hours to look at everything. Maybe a bit longer if you want to just hang out and soak up the atmosphere. It’s not pricey either. 10 bucks for adults, 5 bucks if you have a student ID.

The building was built in the early 1800s and the furnishings and personal effects in the home were the property of the original owner, who bought the place in 1835. There have been a few modifications, like the addition of a fire escape for safety, bars on a few windows for security, and the removal of the outdoor latrine for sanitary purposes. Part of the garden was paved over with additional marble paving stones. Two indoor toilets were added for museum visitors. But, most everything else is authentic, like the cooking implements, clothing, hats, wash basins, and furniture. There’s even a pail of coal in the kitchen that one can pick up to experience the carrying load of a household servant or slave.

It’s a cool place and I’m looking forward to going again with my wife. I went by myself on a weekday afternoon. We’re particularly interested in attending one of the summer evening lectures in the outdoor private garden.