I recently had the privilege of visiting New York's Houdini Museum. What a place! My local Sam #25 ( Society Of American Magicians) conducted a fabulous field trip. There were about a dozen of us that had the pleasure of the experience.
The Curator was very knowledgeable about everything Houdini. He was proud to point out an actual costume that Houdini's wife and assistant Bess, actually wore herself. There were many escape devices and hand cuffs used by the great Houdini himself. My eyes danced when I spotted Houdini's actual sub trunk along with his actual performance table. Present in the museum were pictures, memorabilia and genuine Houdini owned props galore. For a magic enthusiast, this was better than a trip to Disney! ( There was even a Disney room! )
In addition to the Houdini room there was a room filled with costumes worn by the greats in magic including Doug Henning and Sigfried and Roy! I was so excited to also encounter a picture of my mentor and former employer Paul Diamond of Ft Lauderdale on the wall. The museum was filled with magic treasures to take in and everything was meticulously displayed.
Another fascinating room contained magic tricks and joke items dating back to the early 1900s! In it were many decks of cards and magic props on display as well as a trick that David Letterman actually stuck his head inside of on the David Letterman Show ( which almost went up in flames)!
Opened in October 2012, the Houdini Museum of New York contains several hundred pieces of ephemera, most of which belonged to magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. Of the museum's many pieces, Houdini's 1907 escape coffin (in which Houdini was sealed with six-inch nails and subsequently escaped), the "robot" from Houdini's 1919 silent film The Master Mystery, and Houdini's Metamorphosis Trunk are the largest. Other notable pieces include the original bust from Houdini's grave (on loan to the museum from S.A.M. Parent Assembly Number One), Bess Houdini's stage outfit and a large selection of smaller pieces such as Houdini's personal magic and escape props. There are also many items related to Houdini's interest in the debunking of spiritualists. The Houdini memorabilia is said to be worth more than $1 million. and has been variously estimated to have cost "several million."
It is in an unassuming and almost unheralded location, and as such is easily missed. The museum has also been featured as both a point of interest and a background location on several television shows including ABC World News, Fox & Friends, NY1, MTV and Good Day New York.
The museum is owned by Houdini collector Roger Dreyer (also the owner and CEO of Fantasma Magic) and was designed by architect and designer David Rockwell. It features over 1,500 pieces of "Houdiniana," which portends an "ever changing display." Dreyer's Houdini collection is the second-largest in the world; the first being the collection of Las Vegas illusionist David Copperfield.