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Treasures in the Trash Museum in East Harlem, Manhattan, New York City

An Ali Baba cave or a sophisticated museum? 40,000 items to discover in an active garbage depot.

Most museums have storage rooms or even entire buildings to keep the items currently off exhibition. But there is a museum in East Harlem that displays around 40,000 things in the same time. The Treasures in the Trash Museum is something between Ali Baba cave and a garbage depot.

The heart of the museum is Nelson Molina - a sanitation worker with over 30 years of experience. He dedicated himself to bringing to light unusual objects that were once kind of, well, betrayed by their previous owners. In the beginning, he would pick them out of waste to decorate his garage corner. Later, when his collection began to grow, he was allowed to spread it around. With the help of his fellow coworkers, Molina converted the depot into a real museum.

The exhibit is in fact not really organized and mostly off-limits to the public (to request access you must contact city officials or wait for a special occasion: the latest one was during OHNY Weekend in 2017). Anyway, this whimsical cornucopia is worth seeing. About a century-year-old family portraits stand side by side with fake Mona Lisas; a silent film projector illuminates a bunch of doorknobs; 19th-century stained glass from a Manhattan church mingle with war medals... To list all the items is literally impossible (remember, there are about 40,000 of them). Better come and see live. 






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