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The City Reliquary Presents: BIRD SHOW

BIRD SHOW documents the ways humans & birds notice, help, and threaten each other. Like all New Yorkers, wild birds are jostling for space and rubbing shoulders with others as they go about their day. Sometimes those interactions are with humans, sometimes with other wildlife; often these interactions are to the detriment of birds, sometimes, to the detriment of humans, and sometimes, to the benefit of both.

Curated by our own Board Member and Designer About Town Jacob FordBIRD SHOW exhibits art and artifacts illustrating these human-bird interactions and asks how we can better adapt to our fellow creatures and create a better habitat for us all. 

Taxonomized incorrectly as science fair, fairly as art gallery, but most specifically as museum exhibition, BIRD SHOW looks at humans watching birds, and the birds staring back.

Work & artifacts by

  • Andrew Garn
  • Gabriel Willow
  • Nina Katchadourian
  • Alex Tomlinson
  • Bird Union
  • Stephen Mallon
  • Daniel LaCosse
  • Duke Riley
  • Christian Cooper
  • Ryan Mandelbaum
  • Adrian Brandon
  • NYC Audubon
  • Project Safe Flight
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • National Pigeon Association
  • Et cetera & more

BIRD SHOW will be on view through June 5, 2022.

Seeking Submissions for Wonder Women Zine! Deadline April 18, 2022!

Black and white illustration of a fist holding a coiled rope and wearing a dark armband
Wonder Woman-inspired illustration by Leslie Lanxinger

The City Reliquary Museum, in collaboration with Desert Island, is conducting a call for submissions of artwork and creative or academic writing related to or inspired by the popular icon, Wonder Woman.  

Submissions will be considered for inclusion in a 32-page comic book, edition of 2000 titled “Wonder Women: NYC’s Heroes of Heterodoxy.” Edited by Desert Island founder, Gabe Fowler and City Reliquary founder, Dave Herman; it will serve as a companion piece to the museum exhibition of the same name on view at the City Reliquary Museum beginning in June 2022. The comic book will be distributed free to supporters of the City Reliquary and Desert Island, and to select comic book dealers throughout NYC. Selected contributors will receive 10 free copies of the publication.

Other contributors to the museum exhibit and limited edition comic book include:

  • Trina Robbins; artist and author, The Legend of Wonder Woman, and It Ain’t Me Babe
  • R. Sikoryak; artist, The Unquotable Trump, and Constitution Illustrated 
  • Robyn Smith; artist, Nubia: Real One, and Wash Day Diaries
  • Tim Hanley: author, Wonder Woman Unbound, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale
  • Noah Berlatsky: author, Wonder Woman, Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics 1941-1948
  • Karen Green; Curator for Comics and Cartoons at Columbia University
  • Andy Mangels; author, editor; Gay Comix, founder/curator; Wonder Woman Museum 

The publication and exhibition will address additional themes integral to the Wonder Woman comics and their surrounding NYC history including:

  • Early 20th century birth control pioneers
  • Underground and Gay Comix 
  • 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-generation feminists 
  • BIPOC representations in comic art 
  • NYC protest activities including women’s suffrage parades, pride parades, the BLM movement
  • Women’s, Transgender, and Queer liberation.    

More about the museum exhibition:

For over a century, all across New York City, the women behind the fascinating evolution of Wonder Woman have rejected social norms and fought tirelessly to break the chains of orthodoxy in its many forms. Beginning with the suffrage movement in Greenwich Village and the nation’s first birth control clinic in Brownsville, the character’s unique history grew to span a polyamorous triad at Columbia University, a mental health clinic in Harlem, a Lower East Side bohemian boutique, the United Nations Building, and Black Lives Matter protests throughout the city. Explore the remarkable women who inspired the triumphant and troubling journey of America’s favorite female superhero in the City Reliquary Museum’s exhibit: Wonder Women: NYC’s Heroes of Heterodoxy. 

Submissions should be received by Friday, April 18th 2022.

Email submissions to: wonderwomen@cityreliquary.org

Text: No more than 500 words.

Artwork: Single page or 2 page spread. Final artwork should be 6”x9” per page 300 DPI resolution, black and white or CMYK, pdf or jpg format.


New COVID-19 Guidelines for Visitors (as of 8/16/21)

Hello there! Interested in visiting the City Reliquary? The Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6 p.m. Visitors have two different options:

  1. Make a reservation for a 45-minute time slot, during which you and your party will have the Museum to yourselves. These time slots begin at 12:00, 12:45, 3:00, and 3:45 each Saturday and Sunday. One person will pay for admission in advance and additional members of the group will pay at the door.
  2. Come to the Museum without a reservation during our first-come, first-served open hours. These are from 1:30 to 3:00 and 4:30 to 6:00 each Saturday and Sunday.

Following current NYC guidelines, ALL VISITORS to the Museum ages 12 and older must show proof that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO. We also ask that visitors to the Museum ages 2 and older wear a mask indoors.

Proof of vaccination may include:

If you received the vaccine outside the U.S., you must have an official immunization record that includes:

  • First name and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Vaccine product name (only vaccines authorized by the WHO are acceptable)
  • Date(s) administered
  • Site where the vaccine was administered, or name of the person who administered it

In the spirit of civic solidarity, we want visiting the Museum to be a safe experience for all our visitors and volunteers. Thank you for your cooperation in this endeavor.

Looking for our Events Calendar?

Hello City Reliquary website visitor! For the latest listing of our upcoming events, please visit our Withfriends page here! You can purchase tickets or reserve Member tickets to all upcoming events through that site.

Consider becoming a sustaining member of the City Reliquary – you can do that our Withfriends site as well.

The History of Bazooka Joe! Thursday June 10 at 8 pm

The History of Bazooka Joe

Thursday, June 10 – Presentation at 8 – Doors at 7

$7 General Admission – Free for City Reliquary Members (tickets required)

The City Reliquary is proud to present a very special event celebrating America’s favorite eyepatched rascal Bazooka Joe! A distinguished panel of candy and comics experts will discuss the history of the iconic character and his lasting impact on marketing and design.

Our guests include:

Ira Friedman has spent his career on the merchandising side of pop culture. Since his early days at Starlog and Fangoria magazines, to a stint at Lucasfilm during the original release of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ira landed at Topps in 1988 as the director of new product development. Since that time, Ira has been a fixture at the famed bubble gum and trading card company involved in hundreds of different projects, publishing, and confectionery products – ‘homegrown’ and licensed.

Charles Kochman is the Editorial Director of Abrams ComicArts and editor of the #1 bestselling series Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. For thirty-five years, Kochman has edited several hundred books for all age groups, including award-winning picture books, middle-grade novels, retrospectives, monographs, graphic novels, and art book collections published by Abrams, DC Comics, MAD magazine, Bantam Books, and Putnam. He is a recipient of the Inkpot Award, presented by Comic-Con International for achievement in comics.

Jason Liebig is regarded as one of the nation’s foremost experts on candy and snack food brand history and is considered an arbiter of candy as pop culture and nostalgia.  As such, he has written hundreds of articles on the subject matter and has served as a brand consultant as well as period television consultant for shows such as Stranger Things, Young Sheldon, Mad Men, and more.  His unique perspective and expert knowledge have led him to become an occasional television host and frequent guest, sharing his love of the candy and snack worlds he loves.  Blog: http://www.collectingcandy.com/wordpress/

R. Sikoryak is a cartoonist and author of the graphic novels Constitution Illustrated, The Unquotable Trump, Masterpiece Comics, and Terms and Conditions (Drawn & Quarterly). His comics and illustrations have appeared in The New YorkerThe New York Times Book ReviewThe NationThe Onion, and more. Sikoryak presents his live comics performance series, Carousel, around the U.S. and Canada. 

Special guest appearance by M. Sweeney Lawless, writer of ill repute. Twitter: @Specky4Eyes

Bazooka Joe and his Gang appeared in mini-comics on Bazooka bubble gum wrappers starting in 1954. The comic concept was the brainchild of Woody Gelman and Ben Solomon, heads of product development at Topps, and the original comic artist was Wesley Morse. Topps, the king of trading card companies, has been based in NYC since 1947.

Admission to the Museum and The Call of Candy exhibit included – come early to check out vintage Topps and Bazooka Joe ephemera as well as that of other NYC candy manufacturers from the 1800s to today!

The City Reliquary Proudly Presents: The Call of Candy!

Candy is the fifth food group, the fourth meal of the day, the one that you eat in between all the other meals. And as candy changed from treats sold by the pound from jars atop counters to mass-produced, mass-marketed chews and bars with colorful names, New York City was home to a thriving collection of candy and chocolate manufacturers, employing thousands of New Yorkers. 
America was growing into a candy-eating and candy-producing nation, and that candy (along with the American practice of eating it other than at mealtimes) would be exported all over the globe, much of it originating from here in the Big Apple. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the waterfronts of the East River were lined with sugar refineries, such as the Domino Sugar Corporation on Kent Street, started by the Havemeyer family, namesake of the street not ten yards from the Reliquary’s front door. 

The refined sugar was used by candy manufacturers all over Brooklyn and the surrounding boroughs. In 1908, Brooklyn produced 130,000,000 pounds of confections, serving not only the 560 candy shops across Kings County, but also for national and international export and sale to the U.S. government for use as military rations.

Female employees wrapping candies at large tables in a factory for Wallace Candies in 1914.
Wallace Candy Factory, 1918

From the Rockwood Candy Company near the Navy Yards, to Phoenix Candy Company of Greenwood Heights and the nearby Topps Chewing Gum of Industry City, to Manhattan’s Huyler’s Candy on Irving Place near Union Square, this exhibition displays wrappers, packages, and ephemera of NYC’s boisterous history of candy-making on an industrial scale.
As declared by the National Confectioners Association in the 1920s, “Candy is delicious food—enjoy some every day!”

Bazooka Joe comics on bubblegum wrappers
Bazooka Joe bubblegum wrappers, manufactured by Topps in Brooklyn, NY

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