Have you heard about the City Reliquery in Brooklyn, NYC? It’s a special place. It began in 2002 when artist Dave Herman started displaying things in the window of his ground-floor apartment, things he had collected over the years, little bits of the city. Other Brooklynites started to notice and encourage the window exhibition, and gradually the collection grew. In 2006 the City Reliquery moved into its own building on Metropolitan Avenue, where it hosts a robust lineup of temporary exhibitions and community events. For more background on the Reliquery you might want to listen to this NPR piece by Diantha Parker.
I visited this summer and was impressed by how vibrant and imaginative the City Reliquery felt, even as a small space on a shoestring budget. Here’s a photo of the entryway:
And here are a couple of photos of the main gallery, showing the kinds of relics the Reliquery collects:
Temporary exhibitions are mounted in the back gallery; when I was there it was the work of Colin the Slice Harvester. Colin is trying to eat a slice of pizza at every pizzeria in NYC; he rates and photographs as he goes:
And lastly, here’s the back courtyard, where City Reliquery hosts both a film and a concert series, show-and-tell nights, craft nights, and other community events:
This is a completely different kind of space than the local historical society one typically finds in communities across the country, which makes sense because Brooklyn is so different from most communities—it has become the artist/writer/hipster capital of the United States (and in fact the NPR piece referenced above raises the issue of the City Reliquery’s conflicted role in Brooklyn’s gentrification). So here’s my question to all of you: do those traditional local historical societies need a dose of the City Reliquery? Do the traditional local historical societies merely reflect more traditional local communities, or instead are they staying the same while their communities’ interests and tastes are changing?