We’ve all heard that one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure (or, as Jim Carrey’s version of The Grinch might say, “one man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpurri”). But Nelson Molina’s museum takes this concept to another level. Molina is the creator of the Treasures in the Trash Museum, a museum of sorts in New York City made up exclusively of items from the trash. Trust us–it’s way cooler than it sounds. And it sounds pretty cool, once you get past your misgivings about trash.
Since 1981, when Molina joined the Department of Sanitation, he salvaged hundreds of items he found while on his daily route from 96th Street to 106th Street. And not junk–unique items in good condition, which Molina told Hyperallergic that he’d always had an eye for. These items, accumulated over three decades, finally have a home in the Treasures in the Trash Museum. Housed in the working MANEAST 11 sanitation garage, the Treasures in the Trash Museum is usually closed to the public: however, people were welcomed in during the annual Open House New York weekend, which this year focuses in on waste in the city.
The items in the museum vary. Dorm posters of the Mona Lisa mingle with stained glass. Christmas decorations light up one corner, while another is devoted to old photographs. Everything from violins to war memorabilia to old diplomas are organized and displayed. The more you see, the harder it is to believe that this is all waste.
According to Hyperallergic, Molina was allowed to keep his expanding collection in the garage because it’s structurally unsound and can’t technically be used–which may eventually lead to the building being torn down altogether. What would become of the museum? Nobody knows. For now, though, the museum stands as a testament to not only the things we discard, but a testament to the people who discard. Stories that we don’t know accompany each item, and that sense lingers throughout the museum.
In addition, the Treasures in the Trash Museum also serves to highlight the sheer amount of waste the western world produces. If these are just the fun, salvageable items, where does the rest of our trash go? Molina’s museum points out just how much “waste” isn’t actually so, and gets visitors thinking about how they can cut down on the amount of waste produced by mass consumerism.
No matter what becomes of the Treasures in the Trash Museum, there’s one thing that’s for certain: it certainly has its visitors talking.
Check out more on the Treasures from the Trash Museum in this original article by Allison Meier at Hyperallergic!
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