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Miss Subways 2019!

An illustration of the Statue of Liberty wearing a sash reading "Miss SUbways 2019." Art by Ben Wigler.
Art by Ben Wigler.

Tickets are Available Now!

The Third Annual Miss Subways Extravaganza will take place on Thursday, October 3, 2019! We’re returning to Littlefield, 635 Sackett Street in Brooklyn, for this year’s celebration of the weird, wild, frustrating, entertaining, and vital circulatory system that is our city’s subways.

With cascading malfunctions and literal cascades happening all too frequently, it can be difficult to find things to celebrate about our transit system. But let’s not forget the bright spots of the past year in subway news: the L Train shutdown was downgraded from “apocalypse” to merely “difficult.” New York passed a congestion pricing plan which will help speed up city buses and raise additional revenue for transit. A new fare payment system is on its way. And…well…there’s always a chance of seeing a dog in a bag. Our subways need advocates and ambassadors more than ever!

This event serves as a call to arms for subway supporters and lovers of the NYC underground. A modern take on the Miss Subways pageants held in NYC between 1941 and 1976, subway riders of all ages and gender identities are encouraged to participate! In a night of performances spanning the classy, the trashy, the weird, and the whimsical, contestants will demonstrate their devotion to their subway line of choice. But only one can take home the transit tiara! Our panel of distinguished judges, with assistance from the audience, will select this year’s public ambassador, Miss Subways 2019.

All proceeds from the event support the City Reliquary, NYC’s finest cabinet of city curiosities, and Riders Alliance, a membership organization dedicated to winning better transit by organizing bus and subway riders into a powerful political constituency.

If you’re interested in being a contestant in the Miss Subways Extravaganza 2019, click HERE for more information on applying!

Celebrate our New Mural on Saturday, June 29

Mural painting of a swan surrounded by swirling flowers
A preview of the mural by Joaquin Torres Zavaleta

Mural Unveiling Party With Live Music! 1:00-4:00 p.m.!

The City Reliquary Museum is home to New York’s many histories, the multiple, interweaving narratives that make up this city we call home. This summer we are partnering with Argentinian artist Joaquin Torres Zavaleta to create a mural in our backyard, celebrating some of the NYC plants and birds that came from other countries. As these species made their homes here they transformed the urban environment. Some even became local icons, like the ever-present pigeon. Joaquin’s mural asks us to think about migration, settlement, and the ways that cultural exchange is embedded in our cityscapes. We are excited to welcome these birds to our backyard and to highlight how immigration continues to enrich and strengthen our city.

We’ll be celebrating the completion of the new mural with a party on Saturday, June 29! Join us for live music by Julian Harris (who also directed this great video of Joaquin’s work) and Sami y Sarah, and hear from Joaquin about his research and influences.

Many thanks to Residency Unlimited for connecting us with Joaquin and providing refreshments for Saturday’s party!

Collectors’ Night 2019!

"Collectors" spelled out using different vintage objects.

Saturday, September 7, 2019 6:00-9:00 p.m. Tickets available at the link!

At Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 275 N. 8th Street, Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, NY

General admission tickets $20 /$10 discounted tickets available to presenting collectors and City Reliquary Members.

The City Reliquary is proud to present our 14th Annual Collectors’ Night! Every year, collectors and archivists – whose collections run the gamut from loose groupings to the hyper-specific – display their treasures to the public and share their stories in a rapid-fire show and tell. It is an opportunity to get up close with obsessive labors of love.

Our featured presenter on September 7 will be architect and NYU Professor Louise Harpman, who will be speaking about her collection of coffee cup lids! Her recent book (co-written with Scott Specht) on the surprisingly complex design of this ubiquitous yet commonly overlooked item has received rave reviews, and she even acts as a consultant on coffee cup lid design from time to time!

We’ll also have a very special live model presentation of handmade vintage Hungarian dresses from director, actor, and fashion maven Syrie Moskowitz!

In addition, we’ll have our usual eccentric variety of collections – check out these photos of past editions! Small collections of large things. Large collections of small things. Commonplace items with a singular theme. Vintage, obscure, and ephemeral. Precisely laid out vitrines or piles of whatsits. You’ll see it all!

Do you have a collection you’d be interested in displaying at Collectors’ Night 2019? Big or small, loosely grouped or exactingly themed, obscure or commonplace, vintage or brand new – we’d love to see it! Follow this link to complete a brief application form. If accepted, you’ll receive a code for discount tickets and special instructions. We’ll try to get back to you speedily – usually within a day.

We hope to see you on September 7 as a collector or guest!

A Ticker Tape Extravaganza!

Join us for a very special event on Saturday, June 22, from 6:00-9:00 p.m.!

A ticker tape ribbon with event information

Did you know that the first ticker tape parade occurred in New York City during the Statue of Liberty’s dedication in 1886? Curious about what, exactly, ticker tape is? Join us on Saturday, June 22 at the City Reliquary to learn more about the past and present of parades in NYC! We’ll hear from Andy Breslau of the Downtown Alliance, which provides improvement services for lower Manhattan, including the famed “Canyon of Heroes” on Broadway.

If you’ve never qualified to be part of an official ticker tape parade (or even if you have), you can enjoy the experience in our ticker tape photobooth! Souvenir Polaroid photos will be $5.

This ticker tape event is FREE with admission to the City Reliquary Museum.

The Art Neighborhood: Celebrating Ten Years of Action 2009-2019

The City Reliquary is proud to present The Art Neighborhood’s 10th Anniversary installation! Throughout June and July, the Neighborhood will grow in our gallery space and be populated with action figures made by our visitors. Come watch the installation take shape during our open hours, and join us for action figure making workshops on Saturday, June 15 and Saturday, July 13!

The Art Neighborhood is an interactive and collaborative art installation created by Brooklyn artist Lisa Ludwig. It depicts an alternate universe shantytown populated by superhero action figures built by community participants over the past 10 years.

Built from found materials, the world of the Art Neighborhood reflects the themes of struggle, beauty, hope, and transformation. It embodies the call to action necessary to address problems of poverty and conflict. Visitors participate by creating action figures – of themselves or alter egos – to add to the Art Neighborhood community installation with the understanding that artistic expression is one of many ways to answer a call to action.

Lisa will begin building this incarnation of the Art Neighborhood at the Reliquary on Thursday, May 30. Everyone is invited to come watch its progress and to create their own action figure to populate the town! Action figure workshops will take place on June 15 and July 13. The complete set of action figures, built by artists, children, musicians, activists, and museum-goers over the past decade, will be on rotating view in the front gallery space.

If you are a past participant in the Art Neighborhood, we especially hope to see you over the course of the exhibition, and hope you’ll add to your character’s story.

Patrick O’Hare: New York Landscapes Film Screening Friday, May 17

Shadowed skyline of buildings and trees against a darkening sky at dusk. Two vapor trails cross each other overhead.
Still from Chimera, New York City Landscapes

The City Reliquary Proudly Presents:

Patrick O’Hare: New York Landscapes

Film Screening & Reception: Friday, May 17th, 7 PM

Patrick O’Hare is a photographer and filmmaker who explores the architecture and landscape of the modern world. His films evoke that strange language of merging and omission that allows reality to slip and hints at the invisible. Through the cracks, something startles and vanishes – the shape-shifting riddle of inside and outside.

On May 17, the City Reliquary will screen three of O’Hare’s recent films: Chimera, New York City Landscapes; The Highlands; and The Ecstasy of Ruins. Shot in 2018 in New York City, the Hudson River Valley, and upstate New York respectively, these works explore the natural and manufactured elements of our landscape, blurring the line between permanence and the evanescent to form a more elusive state of being. A discussion with the artist and reception will follow the screening. Chimera, New York City Landscapes will be on continuous view in the City Reliquary’s gallery in the following weeks.

The May 17 screening is free with late night admission to the City Reliquary Museum, a suggested donation of $7.

Patrick O’Hare’s photographs have been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Parsons School of Design, and Rhode Island School of Design. He has screened his films at UnionDocs in Brooklyn, New York and the Unseen Film Festival in Denver, Colorado.


Synopsis:

Chimera, New York Landscapes (2018). HD, Silent, 18:00

A city as hybrid of public and private, modern efficiency and timeless elements, projected through light and weather, refracted and collaged.

The Highlands (2018). HD, Silent, 18:41

A series of Hudson Valley landscapes, the film asks what a river and its environs evoke as an ancient conduit to a present state of mind.

The Ecstasy of Ruins (2018). HD, Silent, 19:27

The quiet geography of upstate New York reveals an architecture of melancholy and a twilight civilization writ large.

Psychic City: The Medium of Mediums

Exhibit logo for Psychic City: The Medium of Mediums with crystal ball

Solve all your problems! Guaranteed results! Explore the history of New York City psychics, mediums, and fortune tellers with this vast archive of handbills and flyers collected by Harley J. Spiller. This exhibition — curated and designed by Parsons students — is a multi-sensory experience that allows visitors to ponder the past and seek their future. One visit will show you the way!

Exhibition on view April 4, 2019 – May 26, 2019

Hand-drawn flyers advertising psychic advice by phone, created by the exhibit designers.
The interactive exhibit invites you to get a reading of your own by phone.

What’s New in our Making A Museum Exhibit? Walk/Dont Walk Pedestrian Signal

The humble pedestrian signal: a street design standard of such obvious utility (albeit habitually ignored by New Yorkers) that it seems to have existed forever. But our streets have not always been ruled by incandescent dictates. In the early 20th century, pedestrians freely used street space to cross and walk in. As automobile usage became more common, so did pedestrian deaths. In an effort to improve safety and reduce gridlock, the first permanent traffic lights in New York, on 5th Avenue between 14th and 57th Streets, were installed in 1920. Separate pedestrian signals were first introduced at a few intersections in the late 1930s.

The yellow box “walk/dont walk” signal we have on view was installed throughout the city in the 1950s. Note the lack of an apostrophe in “dont”: possibly because the first such signs were neon, with “dont” made out of a single glass tube that made it difficult to include. The idiosyncratic punctuation helped to make the signal a beloved part of NYC’s visual fabric. “The apostrophe missing from DONT WALK” was one of the 101 reasons to love New York City cited by the Times in 1976 (please read the entire incredible list), and a Times writer later effused “[i]t is to Martin Scorsese’s midcentury Manhattan what the gas lamp is to Edith Wharton’s gilded age.” The sign was the titular component of Pratt alum George Segal’s sculpture revealing “passionate honesty and existential weight.” And the sign’s instructions were sometimes the first words young New Yorkers learned to read.

Following federal specifications, walk/dont walk signals were exchanged for pictograms, commonly referred to as the man and the hand, beginning in 1999 (though some escaped replacement until 2006!). Initially derided as another way New York was coming to look more like every other U.S. city, our ever inventive citizenry have made the man and hand our own. Unlike other cities worldwide, our alterations have so far been unofficial – another example of New Yorkers always going their own way.

Many thanks to Reliquary friend Steven Gerraro, who donated a pedestrian signal to the Museum in 2017!

What’s New in Our Making A Museum Exhibit? From the Archives: A Lost Ticket From Katz’s Deli

The Lower East Side landmark and makers of famously large and delicious sandwiches, Katz’s Deli, is undoubtedly well known to readers of this blog. Founded in 1888, family owned and operated, When Harry Met Sally, “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army,” etc. All old hat to you experienced New Yorkers, who would never order mayonnaise on your pastrami and always tip your cutter.

And veteran Katz’s patrons are naturally familiar with the ticket system used to ensure everyone pays their check: every adult receives a ticket, printed with a grid of numbers, upon entry; each adult must return that ticket when exiting, even if unused. Lose the ticket, and it’s a $50 fee. It’s an archaic system that has induced curiosity, rage, and panic in customers, and has become as integral to the Katz’s experience as pickles, shared tables, and fading celebrity photos on the walls.

While you can display your Katz’s ticket knowledge with a t-shirt or socks, the high price for a lost ticket makes the ticket itself a highly unusual item to find outside the confines of Katz’s. Truly lost tickets are a rare occurrence, according to Jake Dell, Katz’s current owner, and indeed the historical timeline posted in the deli’s window states that the first lost ticket didn’t happen until 1962. We don’t know the story of how this ticket, found on the street, escaped – did it cost the erstwhile owner $50 or an hour or two of dishwashing work, or did the staff take pity and let them go? – but it represents a slice of New York life that can only be found one other place in the city.

The Fantasy Coffin Experience (and other funerary traditions)

Friday, March 22, 2019 – Talk at 7:00 p.m. – Museum open until 9:00 p.m.

RSVP for this event on Facebook

Alert readers of the City Reliquary’s blog and recent Reliquary visitors are no doubt familiar with author Sarah Murray’s Ghanaian fantasy coffin in the shape of the Empire State Building, now on view in our Making A Museum exhibit. If you’d like to learn more about how that coffin came to be – and about more fascinating funerary traditions from around the world – be sure to attend her talk at the Reliquary on Friday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m.!

Ms. Murray will share stories and photos from her book Making An Exit, an exploration of the extraordinary creativity unleashed when we seek to dignify the dead. Her research took her around the world and brought her to create a unique plan for her own eventual send-off.

The event will be free with admission to the City Reliquary Museum! We’ll be open special late-night hours from 6-9 p.m. so there will be plenty of time to check out all our exhibits and new additions before and after Ms. Murray’s talk at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be available by donation.