The Magic of Houdini Lives on in Scranton

Houdini may not have come back from the “other side,” after his mysterious death on Halloween in 1926, but his legacy is alive and well in Scranton at the Houdini Museum, Tour and Magic Show.

Houdini Memorbilla at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA

The attraction first located in New York City, relocated to Scranton in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania twenty-nine years ago when searching for a place with proximity to New York and Houdini history. The current 150-year-old home located at 1433 N. Main Ave in downtown Scranton was purchased to store the collection and entertain the public with magic shows.

Harry himself performed several times in Scranton. The city was apparently widely known for a tough raucous crowd in the late 19th and early 20th century. I imagine it stems from its industrial and coal mining roots. But if a show was well received here, you were ready for the big(ger) cities. Harry Houdini was certainly ready as he eventually took the world by storm with his death defying acts to become one of the most famous illusionists of all time.

At the museum, admission comes with a tour providing insight into the life of Harry Houdini, a chance to view and appreciate Houdini memorabilia and also a live magic show.

Houdini History and the Museum Tour

Houdini Memorbilla at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA

On the tour, patrons learn about Harry’s early life from its humble beginnings in Budapest, Hungry as Erich Weisz to his immigration to the states starting in Wisconsin and then to New York City. It follows with his fascinations of performing and pushing the limits created to being known as one of the most famous magicians (and persons) of his time and still perhaps most famous magician of all time.

After learning about his life and accomplishments from being the king of cards, an escape artist, a film career, authoring books, a vanishing elephant, and even flying a plane in Australia, patrons are led through a few rooms of memorabilia. The first focuses on a time line of his life through newspaper clippings, photographs, performance programs, posters, and more. The next room gives visitors the chance to view more of the actual artifacts including some of his personal items and pairs of the famous handcuffs he escaped from. Here you discover perhaps one his most profound quotes too.

My brain is the key that sets me free.”

houdini quote

Comment on the post for a chance to receive this postcard.


Then after the immersion, it is time to raise the curtain and enter the world of magic.

The Magic Show

The owners and operators are both magicians. Dorothy Dietrich, one of the world’s most famous female magicians and the first women to perform the bullet catch, and Dick Brookz, known as “Bravo the Great” entertain the crowd with magic and also garnish more than a few laughs with their “G” rated jokes. Yes, the entire experience is extremely family-friendly.

Also, important to note the engaging show uses plenty of participation from the audience. Yes, visitors will be pulled up onto the stage and become part of the act (and also receive applause). For some it may just be coins from behind their ears while others will pierced or even levitated.

magic show and the Houdini museum in Scranton, PA

She is being levitated

When one particular volunteer declined I was selected next to come onstage and actually had a sword put through me or so it seems. Although in your mind you know it’s magic or an illusion it still took a leap of faith since I felt the sword on the back of my neck. Yikes. So, I took a big swallow (perhaps said a little prayer) and focused on the mantra – to stay adventurous.

houdini museum magic show in scranton

Staying Adventurous on Stage. Photo provided by Houdini Museum.

The entire experience last 2 and ½ to 3 hours and is open daily through the end of summer 2017 (labor day weekend). The show starts at 1pm with limited seats in the cozy cabaret style theatre. For more information on the museum, reserve tickets and to learn how the charitable organization helps continue to the Harry Houdini legacy, visit the website

Stay adventurous, Craig

All comments received by Sept 15th will be entered into a random drawing and the winner will receive the postcard in the photo. Good luck.  Also, hear more about Houdini from the magicians who own and operate the museum, tour and perform the magic show on my upcoming Staying Adventurous Podcast episode 24 – Subscribe here so you don’t miss it.

Finally, I was a guest of Visit Lackawanna County. All the words and opinions expressed are my own.

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  • Maryann

    Never knew about Houdini’s Museum. Sounds like a fun place to visit while in Scranton. Great article.

    • craig zabransky

      It really is a great spot to see if you are curious about the interesting life of Houdini and appreciate magic…. stay surprising Scranton, Craig.

    • craig zabransky

      Postcard to be sent. Thanks for commenting.

  • Maggie Mistal

    I’ve always been fascinated by Houdini. To see the handcuffs he so famously escaped from and learn about his life would be amazing. I have to visit! Thanks for the insightful post Craig!

    • craig zabransky

      Glad it inspired you…. it was really fun to learn about this famous life. stay insightful, Craig

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