If you or someone you know—aged 6 to 86—is interested in magic, take a look inside the Houdini Museum. Located on the 3rd floor of an unprepossessing building at 421 Seventh Avenue (the entrance is around the corner on West 33rd Street just east of the avenue), the museum, inside the headquarters of Fantasma Magic, is a shrine to the late (?) great magician Harry Houdini.
When you arrive, the desk is manned by a magician who does excellent card tricks and will be happy to perform. This is the second largest collection of Houdiana (the largest is owned by magician David Copperfield), and includes photographs, press clippings, several of Houdini's special "escape suits," handcuffs, metal McKenzie Mitts (a very early form of handcuffs), picks, and locks.
A resident bunny named Trixie does her stuff when the museum is booked for a birthday party, bar mitzvah, or charity event. Doves are also part of party packages to which you can bring cake or a full-on caterer.
Magic lessons can be arranged and there are lots of magic tricks on sale, as well as books and posters.
Harry Houdini was born Erich Weisz in Budapest in March, 1874, one of seven children of a rabbi and his wife. The family came to the U.S. in 1878, living first in Appleton, WI before moving to New York. (His longtime residence on West 113th Street in Harlem is mostly unchanged. But not haunted.) Weisz took the name Houdini when he became a professional magician after reading a book by the French magician Robert-Houdin. His great escapes from handcuffs, jails, ropes, and straightjackets made him famous on the vaudeville circuit and he was the long-time President of the American Society of American Magicians.
Before you can say presto-chango, drop in. The museum is free and open seven days a week from 11 am to 6 pm (5 pm on Sundays). For more information, visit houdinimuseumny.com.