Sunday, 4 August 2013

New York's smallest Museum

Yesterday we headed to TriBeCa to do another area study (which is coming up). Part of the lovely thing about exploring one area at a time, is that it also highlights the museums that one might not think of. In this case it was the Museum. I have been wanting to see this tiny museum ever since someone I follow on Instagram posted a picture of it. Why have I not visited this place! So off we went. Hipster Dufus was not impressed when we turned into an ally that blocked out the sun and had rubbish everywhere. It looked like we had just walked into a scene from a bad 80s movie. "Um where have you taken me?" he asked, "don't worry, it's just down here". Of course this was really hard to tell from just the look of the ally as there's no signage, no crisp gleaming new architecture, and no queue of tourist waiting to get in. No this institution has been built into an abandoned freight elevator.

This is a cultural institution with a difference. Named simply Museum, it aims to show the beauty and absurdity of life through the simplest of forms. With the objects that make up our everyday lives, that we don't give a second thought to and that we rely on almost everyday. They can tell us about who we are through a alternate narrative. The curators are film makers who own the production company Red Bucket Films (here again the target is to capture the everyday, the mundane or the forgotten moments in life). They collect the objects themselves or have people who donate them, you can also submit an object if you want. A lot of the objects were donated by artists which I suppose is what gives this museum its gravitas. These are objects from everyday life, some are found on the streets and others they were not legally allowed to tell us how they obtained them (such as the current display of the actual shoe that was thrown at George W. Bush.

I of course was immediately drawn to the religious collection. Yup it even had on of those, a series of Chinese funerary object made of paper. The interpretation is fantastic for something so small. The guide explained that each shelf was like a gallery in a museum. We could find out more about the objects from the information cards or we could turn our phones into audio guides by calling a free number and key-ing in the object number. It was fantastic. It even boasted a museum "cafe" with an espresso machine a collection of baked goodies that were donated by baker friends or supporters of the museum. And even a gift shop, complete with postcards and museum badges. This is my favourite place in the city.

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