The City Reliquary is a not-for-profit community museum and civic organization located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Through permanent display of New York City artifacts, rotating exhibits of community collections, and annual cultural events, The City Reliquary connects visitors to both the past and present of New York.
The City Reliquary began in 2002 at a ground-floor apartment window at the intersection of Havemeyer and Grand Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If a passerby paused to admire the window’s contents, they would discover a small button on the building’s exterior the size of a doorbell. Push the button and the recorded voice of Dave Herman would guide your eye around: two-and-a-half links of a “city hall window chain,” a set of dentures found in Dead Horse Bay, Statue of Liberty figurines. Next to them, carefully painted directions point toward nearby landmarks. Orienting your body toward the Williamsburg Bridge, which the sign tells you is 1.3 miles to the west, you face the heart of New York City.
In January 2006, The City Reliquary moved to 370 Metropolitan Avenue, a storefront only a few blocks from its original location. Collections have expanded and precious wall space has all but disappeared. State of Liberty postcards, terracotta fragments of landmark buildings, subway tokens, geological core samples, paint chips from the L train, and a “very old shovel” each tell their own story of New York City’s past. Rotating exhibitions of community collections can be seen in the storefront window: giant pencils, copper jelly molds, pulleys, and flashlights – each celebrate the community of New York’s present.
As the museum has grown, so has its programming. The City Reliquary hosts block parties, backyard concerts, and film events throughout the year. To foster future generations of collectors, The City Reliquary collaborates with PS132 to create exhibitions of student work. Every year, generous donations from patrons like you help us to continue expanding our collections and programs. Standing on the corner of Havemeyer and Grand Streets, where the original City Reliquary window is still maintained, will not reveal views of the famous City landmarks. Instead, one discovers that everyday New York is already in clear sight.