Museum NYC, a Secret “Gallery” Space in the Financial District
This is so cool, one of those great hidden New York City things that you can show off to friends and family and out-of-town visitors for years to come and feel all underground and in-the-know. In fact, it's so cool that even if you go by yourself, and never tell anyone, it's STILL cool. It's called, simply, Museum, it's tucked away on one of Manhattan's few alleyways–in this case, on the Financial District's Cortlandt Alley–and all of its objects, mostly personal and found items, are displayed on shelves within an 80-square-feet freight elevator. As far as we can tell, Museum is only "open" on weekends, but you can peer through slots in the metal gate at any time, day and night, which, we think, makes it even MORE cool.
Secret Art Gallery in NYC Backed by Big Names
Anyway, a little background on the FiDi's secret art gallery, Museum. Museum opened early last summer–the ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by a Rudy Giuliani imposter known as Rudolph W. Giuliani–and is the creation of Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie and Alex Kalman of Red Bucket Films, a NYC indie film group whose offices are upstairs in the building proper. Oh, and adding to coolness factor, Museum is partially funded by the Spades (as in designers Kate and Jack), whose storefront in NoHo, Partners and Spade, houses a similarly eclectic collection of curiosities.
Inside Museum NYC’s Cortlandt Alley Location
So what's inside the FiDi's hidden art gallery, Museum? Kalman calls these 100 or so pieces “strange artifacts and objects removed from their narratives” that celebrate the "beauty and magic in the everyday." So there's an extensive collection of toothpaste tubes from around the world. There are crustacean-encrusted items–a driver's license, a pocket knife, a comb–salvaged from the bottom of the sea. There are Sharpies and shot glasses (stolen from a Moscow hotel that becomes a brothel at night) and nasty looking weapons and a bag of gummy worms and a piece of white bread in a plastic baggie. Best of all, you can hear about everything by dialing an 888 number (posted on site) and punching in the code for each object. The descriptions, the "liner notes", are often quite funny and always much more interesting that you expect. So there you are, on a desolate, cobblestoned back alley, looking through slotted windows into a repurposed freight elevator, listening to stories about random objects on your phone. Awesome.
Downtown's Secret Art Gallery, Museum, Details
Museum is located in a freight elevator on Cortlandt Alley between Franklin and White Streets. Museum is supposedly truly open on weekends between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., but you can see everything through the windows 24 hours a day.