Free with Museum Admission
Recommended for all ages
Step right up to discover parlor magic performed by The Great Dubini! Gasp as he swallows needles in homage to Houdini, experience turn-of-the-century illusions with playing cards, and enjoy one of the oldest tricks in the history books: a ball that vanishes then magically moves through three different cups!
All weekend, we’re capturing the magic—of magic! Join us for films, programs, and events for the whole family to learn about magic in New York, from the 19th century to today.
The Magic Lantern: The Grandfather of Cinema
Friday, August 24, 5–8 pm
Artist and filmmaker Joel Schlemowitz demonstrates this Victorian-era storytelling tradition used to produce apparitions that could transport viewers to distant lands, conjure ghosts and spirits, or simply amuse with silly jokes.
Kick off our Summer of Magic with a special weekend exploring the life and work of the legendary Harry Houdini! Join us for films, programs, workshops, and activities for the whole family to learn about the master escape artist—and maybe even try some tricks yourself!
Friday, July 13, 7–9 pm | Free with Pay-as-you-wish Friday Night
Discover the adventurous life of Harry Houdini in this jaw-dropping PBS documentary. Runtime 60 minutes
Before film, there was the magic lantern! Used in intimate parlors as a children’s toy as well as in lecture halls and Vaudeville theaters, the spectral, glowing images of the lantern slide could transport viewers to distant lands, conjure ghosts and spirits, or simply amuse with silly jokes.
In this captivating film from director Christopher Nolan, an illusion gone horribly wrong pits two 19th-century magicians against each other in a bitter battle for supremacy. Terrible consequences loom when the pair escalate their feud, each seeking not just to outwit—but to destroy—the other man. Runtime 130 minutes.
Why do our minds believe the impossible? What is the phenomenon of top-down processing? Why and how does the brain fill in the blanks in an incomplete picture? Magicians Kent Axell and Eric Walton uncover the answers through fascinating examples and live demonstrations from their own professional repertoires. The program will close with an example of the psychology at work.
Trace the journey of magic through its exciting and hotly debated formative years. From the performance of the “cup and ball” trick observed in ancient Rome through medieval incantations and potions, the story of magic will enchant you.
Gabriella Corey is an auction specialist at artnet and art history lecturer.
Presenting the most magical tales in all of New York City history! Tom Meyers and Greg Young of the Bowery Boys Podcast conjure up stories of historical wizardry and superstition, from the dusty backrooms of old magic shops to the impossible feats of illusion and incantation from the Gilded Age’s most mysterious parlors.
Free with Museum Admission on Pay-as-you-wish Fridays
Bad news: An evil magician has poisoned you. How? Magic! He will provide the antidote, but only if you can solve a series of puzzles involving objects on display in the Museum. Think your team can come up with the code that will save your life? Join us for this thrilling 45-minute adventure! No team size limit.
Created and run by Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunts