Open Culture (OC) brings a story of Nelson Molina, former New York sanitation worker, that saw art in what other people decided was of no use to them anymore. Since city sanitation workers are not allowed to taking any finds home, between 1981 and 2015 when Molina was working, he kept bringing his finds to the sanitation garage, Manhattan East Sanitation Garage Number 11, to be precise, with his work colleagues joining in.
Molina collected almost anything that could have value, “from autographed baseballs and books to keepsakes of a deeply personal nature, like photo albums, engraved watches, and wedding samplers, but also seemingly disposable stuff – “obsolete consumer technology, fast food toys, and “collectibles” that in retrospect were mere fad.”
The collection grew so big that this location became “an unofficial museum with the unconventional name of Treasures in the Trash.” OC adds that “because the museum is situated inside a working garage, visitors can only access the collection during infrequent, specially arranged tours. Hunter College’s East Harlem gallery and the City Reliquary have hosted traveling exhibits.”
Since the collection is growing further, with Molina’s active participation, The Foundation for New York’s Strongest (a nickname originally conferred on the Department of Sanitation’s football team) is raising funds for an offsite museum to showcase Molina’s 45,000+ treasures, along with exhibits dedicated to “DSNY’s rich history.” Upcoming tour information can be inquired at firstname.lastname@example.org.