The story of the "Treasures in the Trash" museum
We live in a “throw away” society whether you like it or not. The ideas of consumerism, overconsumption, and items designed to be disposable are sadly a part of our everyday life. But there is one person that is taking advantage of all of that.
Meet Nelson Molina.
Nelson started the Treasures in the Trash museum quite organically. As sanitation worker in upper Manhattan Neilson had access to a lot of garbage and quickly realized that there was some neat stuff that people threw away. So he would pull out items he found interesting and place it on the side of the truck and the rest went in the back of the truck. The sanitation garage he worked out of had a bit of a problem on their second floor, it was not stable enough to hold garbage trucks anymore, there were cracks in the floor.. So he set up a table and started putting his collection on it. Before long other garbage people started also contributing to the collection in the garage.
And so the Treasures in the Trash Museum was born.
This sprawling collection all over tables, the walls the ceiling and floor - groups the objects by type. There is a collection of old telephones, a collection of super man doll, tamagotchis, furbies, video games, and so much more.
I was left wondering— I think we have all at one time or another found something interesting in someone else’s trash but what compels someone to collect these things?
It started in childhood
Nelson’s interest in garbage started in childhood. Nelson’s mother always told him to never throw things out. As a result he was very inventive in fixing things or finding new toys in creative ways. He told us a story about how after Christmas he would scour the trash cans on the curb for all the toys that were discarded (because they were now replaced). He told another great story about how he would find little hot wheels and they would be missing a wheel. He would go into his mother’s sewing kit and find just the right button to make a wheel and glue it on. So you can see, Nelson’s connection to discarded items has a long history.
A special star
Of all of these objects Nelson had to have at least one that was very special to him. And he did.
There is a star of David that Nelson had found one day that was very special. The object had a plate on the back and explained that it was dedicated to someone who died in 9/11 at the towers. The star was made from steel recovered from the site. This object was extra special to Nelson but not because of what you might think. Of course the object had great emotional significance but also it triggered a memory for him.
The morning of 9/11 Nelson was working in lower Manhattan near the towers. He got a phone call, his father was sick and he needed to go uptown immediately.
The thought of his father being sick and perhaps on his death bed was an extremely emotional moment for him. Little did he know the events that would take place that day. He left the job site he was at to be with his father, and that is when it all happened, the towers were hit and later collapsed.
Nelson isn’t sure if he had not have left if he would be alive today.
This makes Nelson very emotional to tell it, understandably. He is not sure if he had not gotten that terrible phone call, his father being sick, that he would be here to tell this story.
A new home
This place and the stories of these objects left quite an impression on me. I now know that sometimes when you throw something out someone like Nelson might come along and give it new life.
The Treasures in the Trash museum is looking for a new home as the building where it is currently housed is slated for development.
And the Treasures in the Trash museum (no website)
Here are some other photos I took that day that are un-edited.