This is Denny Daniel, collector by trade and student of history by choice.
He’s a Queens native and the curator of the Museum of Interesting Things, a mostly mobile and very hands-on assemblage of the some of the most unique artifacts from past few centuries.
“It actually started as birthday parties twelve years ago,” Daniel explained in his home museum on E. 8th Street off Broadway, which he usually does tours through between two and five times per week.
“I have a love of history and a love of patterns,” Daniel said.
That love of history manifests itself in not only his museum’s collection, but in Daniel’s demonstrations and talks that the curator has put on.
Daniel has also done lectures at his alma mater of NYU, and elsewhere.
He’s sat down to show former Mayor Michael Bloomberg many of his museum’s items as well as had one-on-one talks with Stan Lee and plenty of other high profile interactions.
Though, being able to explain his collection and their significance to history to kids is especially important, according to the historian.
“I had someone come in one and tell me that if you can’t explain it to a six year old then you don’t understand it well enough,” Daniel said while noting that said paraphrase originally came from Albert Einstein.
Those kind of complex, yet elementary explanations to many of history’s enigmas will be addressed during the museum’s sessions at The Intrepid for the famed aircraft carrier’s kids week, starting on Feb. 15th.
On the topic of enigmas, Daniel also has a piece of the original enigma code cracking machine of World War II.
That’s only one piece of military history on display — Daniel also has the tip of a nuclear warhead…the actual nose cone.
On the more covert side of things, there’s also an actual spy watch from the 1950s which takes photos displayed.
Many of the museum’s items came by donations throughout the country, even the Cradle of Aviation Museum has contributed to Daniel’s collection.
A particularly unique item curated is an original, 1960’s IRT (not MTA) subway map, which even has a sticker advertising the 1964 World’s Fare in Queens.
As a guest of Daniel’s museum, you’re not only entitled but also required to open up a newly acquired artifact before your tour is over.
“My guests technically own the museum so they should be the ones opening the acquisitions,” Daniel said, explaining that it’s almost superstition at this point since many of the packages turn out to have a personal connection to the guest.
“The package picks the person,” he said.
The Museum of Interesting Things and Daniel are always looking for new, old items to curate — give him a call at 212-274-8757 if you’ve got something to pique Daniel’s interest.