A tiny museum in a freight elevator in the middle of New York City alley

Turning down a dark and graffitied alley in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City, I saw a bright light. There, tucked away in a freight elevator, was a museum. And on its shelves were collections of oddities: plastic spoons, Saudi Arabian pool toys, business letters, plastic eggs and bacon, a leather shoe supposedly thrown at the head of George W. Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, and jars with rubble/dirt/ash from Pearl Harbor, Auschwitz, and someone’s father. All of this was a mere sampling of the variety of strange objects the museum hosts. This experience was one of many during my sophomore research seminar’s field trip last Saturday. We began with the Museum of Sex, worked our way to Chinatown for a very tasty lunch and a tour with Chinese takeout menu collector Harley Spiller, and eventually to this tiny museum. All three events had a thematic connection: the invisible. Each hidden in their own way, these places connected to my class’ studies of secrecy, power, privilege and the invisible.