NEW YORK CITY — The Houdini Museum of New York in Manhattan unlocks the life of the greatest magician and escape artist who ever lived.
Harry Houdini, whose real name was Erich Weiss, was most notably known for his spectacular escapes from handcuffs, packing crates, straitjackets and more.
“Houdini would defy anyone to challenge him to be locked up the craziest ways you could imagine,” said Roger Dreyer, Chief Wizard Officer of The Houdini Museum of New York and Fantasma Magic. “And yet Houdini would escape.”
There are several hundred of the rarest and most important pieces that were used and personally belonged to Houdini on display at the museum. Some of the items include his extremely rare publicity posters, unthinkable handcuffs, large escape restraints, secret tools to escape, mystifying magic props and more.
Another stunt Houdini became famous for was the Chinese Water Torture Cell, where he would use his strength and stamina to hold his breath underwater for several minutes.
“He would go upside down in a tank of water – in 1912 he started this – as a way of saying, ‘All of you copiers of my handcuff challenge act, I now dare you to risk your life like I’m about to do and try to get out of this,'” Dreyer said.
Houdini was known to say, “My brain is the key that sets me free,” so his ability to hide his emotions during some of the most death-defying stunts captivated his audiences.
“You’re a showman,” Dreyer said about Houdini in fascination. “You never showed fear.”
Houdini, ironically, died on Halloween in 1926 – not long after giving a visiting college student permission to punch him in the stomach several times to demonstrate his athletic prowess and ability to take a blow. The punches caused his appendix to rupture, and he developed peritonitis. His gravesite can be found in Machpelah Cemetery in Queens where his mother, father, grandfather, four other brothers, and sister are all buried.
To find out more about The Houdini Museum of New York, click here.