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Nov. 23 – We Did It! Sustainability Goal Reached!

Many models of the Statue of Liberty in different sizes and materials on display at the City Reliquary

We did it!!

Last night, our supporters proved that there IS a future for the City Reliquary Museum on Metropolitan Avenue! With the help of hundreds of sustainable memberships, we were able to reach our goal, securing a new path forward for our beloved community-built organization.

This has not been simply an “end-of-the-year” fund drive, or a way to help a small business survive a global health tragedy. This is a new model for our long-term viability that will last us as long as our members are by our side.

If you became a member over the past two months, you didn’t simply get us over a hurdle, you established a new road ahead. You committed to helping us see beyond the current challenges and provided us with a backbone that will help us thrive.

Having met our most basic needs for survival in the storefront space, we are now working to rebuild our coffers to support the programming and exhibitions we will once again be able to deliver in our Williamsburgh home.

As more memberships continue to push us past our basic goal, we are able to start thinking about what more we can do beyond simply paying the storefront rent.

Additional memberships and donations will help us; rehire our one part-time administrative staff position, resume efforts to catalog our collections and make them accessible to remote visitors, and resume planning for the public exhibitions we’ve put on hold since the summer.

Just weeks ago, we had to consider the very real thought that this would be the end of the road for the museum as we knew it. Now we see that it is the end of what we once knew, but for the better. Rather than packing and relocating countless city relics, we can once again plan on delivering the unique blend of art, history, and civic pride that made us a part of this community.

The work has not ended; your support has just made it possible to begin once again.

With most civic gratitude,
Dave Herman
Founder,
City Reliquary Museum
& Civic Organization

Nov. 21 – An Update from City Reliquary Founder Dave Herman

Dave Herman and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at the ribbon cutting for the City Reliquary storefront in 2006
Dave Herman and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at the ribbon cutting for the City Reliquary storefront in 2006

Dear Friends of the Reliquary,

We’ve made it to the FINAL 24 HOURS of our Sustainability Drive with the help and encouragement of so many friends both old and new. Each day we see new sustainable memberships coming in, inching us closer to our very-real goal of $3,000/month of recurring funds needed.  We have now received more than 90% of our goal!

We’re very very close, but it is not quite “in the bag.” We need to secure renewing memberships from ALL of our friends who have NOT YET SIGNED UP, and who still believe our Williamsburgh home should, can, and WILL SURVIVE!

During the nearly 20 years of our existence, I’ve heard two questions over and over, year after year: “What is this place?!?” and “How does this exist?!?” Much to my dismay, the answer to the latter has often been, “As if by magic.” For years, the City Reliquary has survived on good will, copious amounts of volunteer efforts, and repeated pleas for donations to help keep the whole operation afloat. For years, we’ve tried one creative approach after another, trying to invent a new sustainable model for an alternative, small-town museum to exist in the biggest of cities. 

View of the City Reliquary's Jackie Robinson and seltzer bottle collections

In recent years, we had become more reliant on what thankfully seemed to be a steady source of income; museum admissions by international and domestic tourists.  Many larger museums would be proud of the impressive percentage of funding that we received from patrons walking in our front door. We ARE very proud of this fact, but no single source of revenue can truly sustain any organization.  And, in the wake of a worldwide pandemic, we are left brutally aware of this.  

So, two months ago we put out the call to our fans. We acknowledged that admissions, events, and one-time donations had been enough to get us this far, but NOT ENOUGH to secure a stable future in our Metropolitan Avenue location. The only way to keep on our current path would be through a large number of small and steady monthly and annual contributions.  With our friends at (ironically) WithFriends, we set up this new model of sustainable support. Over the past 9 weeks, we’ve been given a new hope for survival by hundreds of friends; some we’ve known since the Reliquary was a tiny window display on Grand Street, and some fans we never knew we had until now.

Which brings us to this moment… 

We are literally inches away from the finish line.  With just 24 hours left to go, we need just $300/month or $3,600/annually to meet our goal, keeping the City Reliquary in its Metropolitan Avenue location, and securing its future for as long as we have all of you by our side.  With membership levels that begin at just $10/month, we can get to this goal with ONLY 30 MORE friends joining us NOW!

What’s most promising about this moment, is the new optimism we’ve seen in recent weeks giving hope for a stronger City Reliquary community; not only for keeping the rent paid, but for breathing new life into a creative and unique space that can support the art, history, diversity, and civic pride that our city needs.

With most civic gratitude and solidarity,

Dave Herman, Founder

City Reliquary Museum & Civic Organization


Nov. 20 – A Message from Mike Miscione and Robin Nagle!

Robin Nagle is the Department of Sanitation of New York’s anthropologist-in-residence. Michael Miscione served as the Manhattan Borough Historian from 2006 to 2019. 

Michael: Hey, Robin. 

Robin: Hey, Mike – good to see you! 

M: Like so many New Yorkers, we both love the City Reliquary. But it is hurting these days and it needs more than just love to get by. So I thought we should tell people why we think the Reliquary deserves their financial support. But first, what’s your attachment to the Reliquary?

 R: The City Reliquary is a touchstone for me whenever I’m teaching or speaking or writing about New York’s history and its unique dynamic. I’ve seen the diverse exhibits, creative outreach, and gorgeously unique public programs inspire everyone lucky enough to experience them. And the Reliquary’s street-level focus and down-to-earth attitude is a model for the eventual Museum of Sanitation. 
How about you, Mike?

M: Well, I learned about the Reliquary when it was still just a glorified window display attached to Dave Herman’s street level apartment. I fell in love with the concept instantly and wanted to help out. I gave them a piece of the City Hall building for their collection.

R: Wait, what??

M: Don’t worry, I didn’t vandalize the place. It was a discarded scrap from when they renovated the roof about twenty years ago. Then I did a Jeopardy!-style quiz show for them — this was years before the Panorama Challenge. We did it out on the street and kept score with M&Ms in plastic cups. Speaking of the Panorama Challenge, I am honored that every year the Reliquary invites me to be a celebrity judge for that annual fund-raiser. 

The Reliquary is such a special institution, don’t you agree?

R: The City Reliquary represents what I think of as the real New York. It celebrates the city’s authentic quirkiness, it’s overlooked histories, and its unfamous but fascinating people. In doing that, it guards against the forces of gentrification and corporatization that threaten to consume more and more of our urban dynamic. 

M: Whenever I describe the Reliquary in one sentence I use the term “New Yorky.” But in a way that’s wrong. The reliquary is quintessentially American in a way that is entirely un-New York. 

R: How so? 

M: Whenever I take a vacation I never go to other big cities; I take road-trips through small-town and rural America. These little places all have their local homespun museums — and they all look like the Reliquary, not the Met! Here’s a rusty old tractor; there’s a display of pills and test tubes from the drug store before they tore it down; there’s an Indian blanket from the pioneer days. They are a hodgepodge of things that give that place an identity in the American tapestry. That’s what the Reliquary does, I think. It places “small town” New York City in the context of the rest of America.

R: An excellent point. The Reliquary shines a bright, loving light on objects and ephemera that are so easy to take for granted but that reflect the lived experience of so many New Yorkers, now and in the past. A subway turnstile, a phone booth — remember those? — a sign from the original 2nd Avenue Deli, a genuine wooden newsstand – those are just a few examples of the riches it holds. 
And it’s the only museum in New York that recognizes the enormous importance of Dead Horse Bay artifacts – treasures that deserve formal attention and conservation but that have been neglected by every other potentially relevant institution.

M: Oh, Robin, I know how much you love your Dead Horse Bay artifacts! 

M: As of this writing on Thursday night 11/19/20, the Reliquary only needs $580/month of sustainable memberships to reach their goal! That’s only 58 more members at the affordable rate of just $10 per month! I became a member, and I know you’ve pitched in too, right?

R: Absolutely! And here’s the thing about the City Reliquary – it’s not a high-end museum with a gajillion-dollar budget. It doesn’t attract huge corporate sponsors or deep-pocket donors. It survives because of us – just folks who care about preserving New York narratives and artifacts and histories that are too easily overlooked, and thus too easily forgotten. 

The City Reliquary has always found a way to hold on – but the challenges of this year have been particularly daunting. It’s common to hear fundraisers claim that any dollar amount can make a big difference. For the City Reliquary, that’s never been more true than now. 

M: Yes, we must keep the City Reliquary going. It’s irreplaceable. When I needed a place to celebrate Alligator in the Sewer Day — February 9th, by the way — they said, “Let’s do it here!” The same with the exhibition you helped organize about the city’s trash. Would the New-York Historical Society have been so welcoming? I doubt it.

Thank you, Mike and Robin, for your support and your encouraging words! You can join them as a Member of the City Reliquary at this link.

Nov. 17 – A Message from Miriam Sicherman, Closet Archaeology Instructor!

Author, educator, and closet archaeologist Miriam Sicherman

I first visited City Reliquary during the Open House New York weekend in October 2016. I’d heard about this little museum many times, but had never made my way to Williamsburg to see it. As soon as I set foot through the turnstile I knew I had entered a space that I could relate to. From the seltzer bottles to the geological specimens to the pencil sharpeners, everything on exhibit showed an attention to how ordinary things, things that most of us take for granted or completely ignore, can actually be objects of fascination and of great value.

Installation view of the Closet Archaeology exhibit at the City Reliquary
Installation view of the Closet Archaeology exhibit at the City Reliquary

This mindset fit exactly with an unexpected project my elementary students had been working on for months. A curious kid, looking for old coins, had begun excavating lost items from underneath the floorboards of the student coat closet. When other kids joined in, it didn’t take long before a 1912 baseball card was found (Charles E. “Gabby” Street of the New York Americans, who became famous for catching a baseball dropped from the Washington Monument), not to mention an endless stream of candy wrappers from bygone brands, schoolwork, stamps, buttons, puzzle pieces, jewelry, bits of newspaper, and even cigarette boxes. These items swept us back to the life of our East Village neighborhood and its children over the course of more than a century. My students all caught the archaeological bug as we peered under the floorboards of more and more closets throughout our 1913 building. We loved finding, looking at, and researching these artifacts, from the cardboard caps of glass milk bottles to the scrawled 1950s spelling tests. And we wanted others to see them, too!

Obviously, the City Reliquary was a perfect place for an exhibit. I spoke with the person working at the front desk that day and the wheels began turning. Working together with me and my students, the Reliquary staff created a beautiful exhibit in the summer of 2017, artfully displaying these bits of detritus from generations of schoolchildren. My own students were thrilled to be taken seriously as junior archaeologists and couldn’t believe it when they learned that more than a thousand people had come to see their exhibit. The lives of schoolchildren past become real to us know through these objects in a way that the written word or even a photo could never approach.

Buttons, puzzle pieces, gum wrappers, and other items found by the closet archaeology students
Photo by Seze Devres for Ace Hotel New York

The items that the Reliquary exhibits with such care and reverence are exactly the ones we might not otherwise notice. Who cares about an old World’s Fair souvenir or a model of the Statue of Liberty? Well, actually, we all SHOULD care. These are the artifacts that teach us about our past, the past that we’re all a product of, even newcomers to New York. By bringing these objects out into the open and focusing our attention on them, the Reliquary gives us back the collective past of our daily life and situates us in history. We can find out what people of the past loved and tolerated and lived with. By extension, it gives us a fresh perspective on the ordinary objects of our own lives, which someday will be historical artifacts as well.

There is no place like the City Reliquary. By keeping it open, we keep the history of the people of the city of New York alive and visible and accessible to all.

Always civic,

Miriam Sicherman

Nov. 10 – A Message from Matt Levy, Panorama Challenge Host Extraordinaire!

The Gentleman Matt Levy (Photo: Jennifer MacFarlane)

Civic-minded New Yorkers, Americans and Citizens of the World. What a wondrous day it is to be alive. To feel the power of democracy shut the door to the maddening intimations of tyranny. How the true power of the people was able to tell a bigot and a despot that Hell No, We Don’t Want Four Mo’ Years. I can’t think of a more apt description of civic mindedness – the true power and pride in a city, any city, and its citizens. And at least here, in Brooklyn USA, there is one magnificent epicenter of civic-minded democracy, one IRL location that is by the people, for the people, and established to the people. I speak, of course, of the City Reliquary.

The first time I noticed the City Reliquary I was riding my bicycle through the streets of Williamsburg, probably on a gorgeous spring afternoon. As I was barrelling towards Grand street at the corner of Havemeyer, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that was enough to make me think. . . what is this? I slowed down to inspect the curiosity – it was an art installation, displayed in a glass vitrine on the street-facing walls of a non-descript residential two story apartment building. But no, it was a series of DIY historical markers that the creator had lovingly detailed with Victorian-style lettering. But no, it was a personal collection of Statuettes of Liberties, with no overarching educational purposes at all – it was just some weirdo’s arty collection. But no, it was a Cabinet of Curiosities, focusing on NYC history and ephemera. Cool I thought, this is weird. . . and off I went.

A few months later, or maybe years later, honestly time is relative, I was riding my trusty bicycle once more when I passed what seemed to be a bodega, done up in the same aesthetic as a weird, wonderful, DIY exhibition, occupying an actual storefront space on Metropolitan, around the corner from that humble little windowbox display. Some maniacs had decided to open up an honest-to-goodness museum, without asking the art world, or the historical world, or the museum world, or anybody, really, for permission. It was wild and renegade and dorky and NYC-know-it-all-nerdtastic. I was absolutely hooked from day one. 

I introduced myself to the President and VP and they asked what my skill set was. I replied “Well, I’m a NYC tour guide, and a native Brooklynite, and a performance poet, and I’m loud and I have a funny moustache and I like to throw events.” They said “Fantastic! Would you like to be the Event Director?” Which is how I got involved with the City Reliquary. I also didn’t have any permission or information behind what I was doing, in life, in art, in education, in anything really. I just threw myself into whatever passion was at hand and I took it to wherever it would take me.

Which is the entire aesthetic behind this “Collection of collections of NYC stuff.” It’s thrown together by passionate people who love the old New York, the new New York, the forever New York, and want to preserve the intangible and tangible parts of the city that are being gentrified away, or corporatized away, or sanitized away, or normalized away. And it’s people like you, friends of the CR, members of the CR, passers-by of the CR who are to thank for its continued existence. It’s also people like you who are the ones we turn to in times of financial straits. Passion can only get us so far. We need the support of the people to get us the rest of the way. 

You can donate as little or as much as you’d like – gifts include blah blah blah – but without your generosity, the CR’s magical passion-fueled place in the heart of a changing Brooklyn will cease to be. And we won’t let that happen. Because passionate NYers like me, like you are what truly make New York New York. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Always Civic,

Matt Levy, Levy’s Unique New York

In honor of Matt Levy’s Covert Cocktail Club, he has named our Membership tiers after famous NYC cocktails this week:

$10/month – Old Fashioned Level

$20/month – Paper Plane Level

$30/month – Penicillin Level

$50/month – Manhattan Level

He says: I chose these cocktail donation level titles because all of them were (ostensibly) invented in NYC and each of them is a delicious, transportative historical lesson in what NYC used to be, and what fueled the imbibers of the day as they caroused, sang, danced, enjoyed life and participated in the great civic lesson of our time – being a citizen of New York City.

Nov. 3, A Message from Leah Dilworth, CR Charter Board Member

Leah Dilworth attends Collectors’ Night, the City Reliquary’s annual celebration of the art of collecting. (Photo: Anna O. Grant)

2020 has tested everyone’s civic spirit. Fortunately, there’s a place where love and civic pride are alive and well. The City Reliquary invites all who cross its threshold to celebrate the wonders, large and small, of this great metropolis. 

I first stumbled upon the City Reliquary in 2003, when it inhabited the street-facing windows of founder Dave Herman’s ground-floor apartment at Havemeyer and Grand Street. I was designing a course about collecting for the local university where I teach, and I realized I had found an actual Wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities devoted to the “relics” of the civic corpus. Later that fall, Dave very graciously invited me and a dozen students into his home to explore the collection. The students were enchanted, and I became the Reliquary’s biggest fan. 

The first cabinets of curiosity appeared in the 16th century, when Europeans began collecting wonders of the wide world they were in the process of conquering. Unlike treasuries or hoards, these collections contained objects that reflected the world’s natural and cultural diversity and strangeness. Similarly, at the City Reliquary we find objects that aren’t what anyone would call treasures. In fact, most things there might be considered trash, things cast off or forgotten, fragments. But the Reliquary enacts a sea change upon its artifacts—and its visitors. Once inside, visitors are encouraged to stay awhile, to look around, to look carefully; isn’t this thing here amazing? We gradually realize that the twisted trolley rail, the subway grab hold, the bus transfers are witnesses to the past. But rather than a feeling of nostalgia, that things were better or simpler in the past, the visitor who accepts the civic spirit of the Reliquary will experience a sense of continuity with the past and a connection with the people who continue to live and prosper here. 

The City Reliquary reminds us that as citizens we are part of a grand, ever-changing social organism, built on a vast infrastructure created by and serving a kaleidoscopic variety of humanity. It excites wonder, and, now more than ever, we need that feeling. Please join me in supporting the City Reliquary so that its wonders will never cease.

Civically yours,

Leah Dilworth

Professor of English, LIU Brooklyn

In honor of Leah’s gracious recollection of the Reliquary collections, she has chosen the following Membership Tier names for this week:

$10/mo.  East River Water Level

$20/mo.  La Villita Cake Level

$30/mo.  Petrella’s Point Level

$50/mo.  Little Egypt Level 


Oct. 27: A Message from Harley Spiller, Inspector Collector and Charter Board Member

Harley Spiller (aka “Inspector Collector”), Guinness World Record holder for largest collection of menus, with his highly rare “More Menus Please” sign

Dear friends and fellow Reliquarians,

We are proud to announce that our Sustainability Drive met its half-way goal last week!!  Now, we need to keep this momentum up.  There is still a long road ahead of us to make sure we can keep our doors open by Sunday, November 22nd with $3,000/month of sustainable funding!

Have you ever been Othered? Mocked? Felt like the weird kid in the back of the room? Does that feel good? We hear your resounding NOs and invite you to the City Reliquary, a unique spot in NYC where no one is shunted to the side, where all are welcome, where civicness and civility take precedence over money, status, and power, where equity and openness rule the roost with kindness and fun.  
 

I’m Harley Spiller aka Inspector Collector and I LOVE the City Reliquary, the tiny but vital artist- and community-led museum in the heart of NYC, a place where little becomes large, where choruses unsung are made audible to the masses. City Reliquary is an altruistic organization, a haven where ego and greed take a back seat to neighborliness.

I used to keep my oddball collecting passions secret – until I was introduced to City Reliquary, a supportive home for collectors of every stripe. It was in the City Reliquary’s modest galleries that I found a welcoming public for my passion to present exhibitions about overlooked subjects including Mr. T, the first Black live-action superhero, Chinese restaurant workers, fortune tellers, even the humble chicken (only after exhibiting my collection of wishbones in CR’s Community Collections case, from a tiny quail’s all the way up to an 8-inch long pelican’s, did I learn that wishbone collections are rare and valued by paleontologists who call them furcula and link them back to flying dinosaurs). 

A compassionate, public-spirited, and noble place is hard to keep afloat in our capital-crazed world but that’s exactly what City Reliquary has been doing since its inception in 2002. Please join with the legions of fans who have visited and supported the CR, from YOU and me, to Borough Presidents and Shirley Chisholm, to professors galore and the free-spirited members of the Puerto Rican Schwinn Club. There’s a home for all civic individuals at the Reliquary!

It’s hard to find oxygen in these days of Covid-19 but there’s no more worthy and humanitarian organization than City Reliquary. Please dig deep and join today to help City Reliquary keep on keeping on, forevermore!

Harley Spiller

Ken Dewey Director

Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.
 

In honor of Harley’s award-winning collection of Chinese menus, we have renamed our membership tiers this week after Harley’s favorite vegetarian Chinese dishes:

$10/mo. Snow Pea Leaves Level

$20/mo. General Tso’s Tofu Level

$30/mo. Mock Duck Level

$50/mo. Eight Treasures Vegetarian Fried Rice Level

Oct. 20: A Message from LuLu LoLo, City Reliquary Charter Member

LuLu LoLo dressed as Valentine
The Fabulous LuLu LoLo takes Manhattan (Photo by Eric Harvey Brown)

Dear Fellow Reliquarians,

As of today, Tuesday 10/20 at 2:00 PM, we are just 1 sustainable member short of our half-way mark!  YOU can be the one to get us across that half-way goal by signing up TODAY!

Hi! You might remember me as a museum docent at the City Reliquary front desk, or from my favorite annual event Collector’s Night, where as a passionate collector I’ve shared my collections of dead bugs, paper clips that my dog chewed, vintage hats, Eiffel Towers, Ladurée macaron boxes, and my mother’s vintage holiday greeting cards—joining all of the obsessive collectors who contribute to the rich and unique City Reliquary community.

As a life-long New Yorker and a playwright/performance artist my work is rooted in the history of New York City. The exhibits at City Reliquary rekindle so many memories for me: the 1964 World’s Fair, the changing sizes of the subway tokens, the Seltzer bottle collection (reminding me of Harry our seltzer man who arrived every Saturday with a case of seltzer), the Jackie Robinson display brings back my childhood  memory of receiving a Jackie Robinson doll for Christmas from my father (a New York Giants baseball fan), the fun of researching the history and costume for the Reliquary’s famous Little Egypt display, and the magical sparkle of Manhattan Schist that is the bedrock of New York City. These collections were all built by passionate New Yorkers like me. 

The City Reliquary's Little Egypt display.
The City Reliquary’s Little Egypt display.

I have witnessed many beloved New York City sites vanish: Penn Station, the Third Avenue El, and CBGB’s—Now, I’m asking you to help prevent the City Reliquary from vanishing too. 

You can keep the Reliquary doors open by becoming a Sustaining Member for as little as $10 a month—less than a ticket to the movies or some fancy phone apps. If you prefer,  make a one-time or annual contribution and we’ll pro-rate a customized membership. 

In order to keep the City Reliquary as we know it, we must have 300 Sustainable Memberships by November 22nd! We want to thank all of our members who have joined in the first half of our sustainability drive, and ask you to help us by encouraging your friends to join us in the second half!  

I’m a civic New Yorker—I’m passionate about my city and the City Reliquary Museum—and I hope you will show your passion too by becoming a part of this vital community museum celebrating the unique history of New York City.  

LuLu LoLo as Joan of Arc in a performance of "Where are the Women?" at Union Square.

LuLu LoLo as Joan of Arc in a performance of “Where are the Women?”. (Photo by Keka Marzagao)

In honor of The Fabulous LuLu LoLo’s ongoing performance series “Where are the Women?” we have created the following membership tiers in honor of these great New Yorkers. 

$10/mo. Emily Warren Roebling Level

$20/mo.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg Level

$30/mo.  Shirley Chisholm Level

$50/mo.  Mother Cabrini Level


Oct. 13: A Message from Nik Sokol, CR Resident Geologist

Nik Sokol underground at the 2nd Avenue subway excavation
Nik Sokol underground at the 2nd Avenue Subway excavation

Last week, City Reliquary Founder Dave Herman told me that my sister Marienka had just become the 100th sustaining member of the City Reliquary. A great coincidence, but I wasn’t surprised that she had stepped up to support the City Reliquary. Like me, she treasures the City Reliquary’s enduring mission to preserve the spirit of an ever-changing New York City. Our great grandparents Rose and Josef Kratina arrived in New York in 1907. Our grandmother Lydia was born just after they arrived (apparently almost on the boat!). They were a family of artists, and Josef, having spent several years as Rodin’s lead apprentice, was seeking to make a name for himself in the United States. 

The Kratina’s struggled but were resilient, like so many other families of that time. But also like the City Reliquary of today. The story of the City Reliquary’s 18-year history, as an unlikely Williamsburgh storefront institution, has many parallels with the stories of the immigrant artist. The realization of a dream in Brooklyn. To share openly with the community and enhance the daily life of the passersby. And the inevitable reliance on patrons to pay rent.

Sculptor Josef Kratina in his studio at 81 Prospect Place, Brooklyn
Sculptor Josef Kratina in his studio at 81 Prospect Place, Brooklyn

About 100 years after my family came to Brooklyn, the City Reliquary opened up the storefront museum – a small museum the likes of which New York had never seen. A museum with a mission as much about contributing to the community of today as it is about displaying gimcracks and tchotchkes of the New York City we all treasure and love. Not only is the City Reliquary where I learned about the history of seltzer, Little Egypt and just how many layers of paint a subway station could have… it is where I met Charlene Mitchell, the first African-American woman to run for the President of the United States, where I created the only known display of rocks and minerals from the World Trade Center and 2nd Ave Subway excavations and, most importantly, the City Reliquary is where I discovered how deeply a group of like-minded folks can positively impact a community.

The City Reliquary's Geology of New York exhibit (samples courtesy Nik Sokol).

The City Reliquary’s Geology of New York exhibit (samples courtesy Nik Sokol).

Please join me and my family in helping to preserve the cultural landscape of New York City by becoming a sustaining member of the City Reliquary Museum and Civic Organization. For just $10 a month…a few cups of coffee, you can help maintain a true gem of New York. And if you ever want to talk about the geology of New York, meet me at the Reliquary!

Nik Sokol

Resident Geologist Emeritus, The City Reliquary

Now, by popular demand, new sustaining members can choose to make contributions above to $10 per month level. Existing members can also increase their monthly contribution. In honor of Nik Sokol’s long standing support of the City Reliquary, we are introducing new tiered levels of membership:

$10/mo. Manhattan Schist
$20/mo. Staten Island Serpentinite
$30/mo. Ravenswood Granodiorite
$50/mo. Rosendale Dolomite


Oct. 6: A Message from Eliana Ritts, CR Board Member & Curator

My name is Eliana, and as a Reliquary Board Member I’m following on to the messages here to share my own experiences with the museum and ask for your support.

I made my way to the Reliquary shortly after moving to NYC in 2013 and started by volunteering at the front desk. I still remember the feeling of turning on the lights at the beginning of each shift and watching the dense treasure trove of objects suddenly illuminate around me. I loved knowing that my time in the Storefront would always hold something unexpected, from the colorful troll dolls of the latest Community Collection to a conversation about mudlarking with a visitor from London.

As I spent more time with the Reliquary I gradually got involved in object research and exhibit curation. This work let me dive into the stories behind our artifacts, like the NYC schist cores, barbershop photographs, and Petrella’s Point. There’s the SJD subway token – one of my favorite objects, created in 1986 when the Assistant Controller of the MTA thought it would be cool to sneak his initials into the token design. And then there’s the Empire Rollerdrome roller skate that sparked our exhibit about the origins of roller disco. As I co-curated this exhibit, I learned about the city’s histories and had the honor of collaborating with incredibly talented members of the NYC roller skating community today.

This to me is the heart of the Reliquary, the way its objects link New York’s layered histories with present communities, opening up the city in new ways and asking us to consider our place within it. With the Reliquary I feel like I’m simultaneously diving deep into the past and expanding outwards in the present. I’ve traveled to different places around New York, from my first roller rink to the remarkable Treasures in the Trash collection. I’ve tried new things, like Manhattan Special espresso soda (verdict: you should try it once, but once is probably enough). And I’ve met incredible people, most recently the wonderful artists Jason Eisner and Liz Beeby, who have generously donated artworks that are available in our Museum Relief Fund

You only have to visit the Storefront once to know what I mean when I say the City Reliquary a special place. We each have our own connection to its story, and whatever yours is, I ask you to consider becoming a sustaining member – for just $10 a month –  and help us save our physical space. By becoming a member you also support the work the Reliquary does, allowing us to continue sharing New York stories and connections through exhibits, special events, and annual programming like Collectors’ Night and Panorama Challenge.
 

If we can reach 300 sustaining members by November 22, we will be able to preserve the museum and reopen to the public. Until then, on October weekends we’re offering private visits to members, as a way to minimize health risks while you explore the collections at your own pace. Become a Member today and you can reserve an appointment. And if we are able to fully reopen, we look forward to welcoming you through our doors for many years to come.

Thank you, so much, for your support.

Best,

Eliana Ritts