Revamping the City Reliquary Museum

The essential Brooklyn institution celebrates its first decade with quirky new displays and an anniversary bash.

0

Comments

Add +
  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    City Reliquary

Photograph: Alex Strada

City Reliquary

After nearly shutting its doors in 2010, the City Reliquary Museum, a repository for New York ephemera and curios, reopens Sunday 1 with a refurbished space. The storefront venue, which is also celebrating its ten-year anniversary, will unveil a gift shop, modeled after a vintage dime store; numerous installations; and expanded community-outreach and fund-raising projects. The improvements, part of a strategic plan the organization devised with a nonprofit consultant last year, will ensure that the City Reliquary remains a fixture for years to come, says founder Dave Herman, who gave us a look at the work-in-progress.


1 One new diorama re-creates a vintage barbershop. Plaques, photographs and a chair come from Barber Hall of Famer Antonio Nobile’s Bay Ridge shop, which operated for 50 years, until the owner’s death in 2002. Meanwhile, a projector screen will display 200 portraits from the 1970s to the mid-2000s of children getting their first haircuts at Al Criscillo’s nearby shop that closed five years ago.


2 Petrella’s Point, a Chinatown newsstand that owner Adam Petrella (who died in 2006) ran for three decades, has received a new wooden frame. The booth now holds several dozen handmade advertisements and original artworks, of which Petrella sold photocopies (his best-seller, as advertised in the diorama’s window, is an illustration of Bruce Lee). A “Guest of Honor” chair where Petrella’s friends would sit for portraits is also on display.


3 A newly purchased wooden 1-to-98-scale model of the USS Monitor, an ironclad warship built in Greenpoint and employed during the Civil War, does battle with the larger Confederate CSS Virginia (also known as the Merrimack) in the Reliquary’s back room. The pair fought to a stalemate in the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862. Another nautical model, a 24-inch-long replica of the Staten Island Ferry, sits above the museum’s doorway.


4 The City Reliquary has converted its entryway into a gift shop that’ll hawk New York–centric and locally made wares, including SITE NYC’s Boroughs of New York City pillows ($50) and Dumbo-based Haptic Lab’s quilts covered in street maps ($450, baby quilts $145). The store will also carry treats and toys, such as BrooklynHardCandy and whoopee cushions. City Reliquary has commissioned its own souvenirs, such as “Croton bugs,” a rubber version of the cockroaches that invaded the city through the newly constructed aqueduct in 1842 and never left.


5 With the renovations, the museum created room for a display case of knickknacks from the 1964 New York World’s Fair, including pot-metal ashtrays, a commemorative ceramic Jim Beam bottle and a beer mug that comes with a built-in whistle. You’ll also be able to pull out drawers to look at artifacts such as tickets and the license plate of a World’s Fair fire truck.


6 The museum’s original installation, a sidewalk-facing display window on the corner of Grand and Havemeyer Streets, has also received an upgrade. Formerly a spot for items from the permanent collection, the cases now host a rotating exhibit of community members’ personal artifacts. Currently, Nik Sokol, the museum’s resident geologist, has his vintage lunchbox collection in the space.


Go see it! City Reliquary Museum, 370 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-782-4842, cityreliquary.org). Sat, Sun noon–6pm. Starting Sun 1: Thu–Sun noon–6pm. • Ten-year anniversary party: Sun 1 noon–6pm; suggested donation for both $5.


See more in Museums


Users say

3 comments
Dennis Kilbane
Dennis Kilbane

I loved this article. Exactly what I love about NYC. Alex did a wonderful job with the photos and the written section is direct and to the point. Put me in a New York state of mind for sure. Thanks!

michelle murphy
michelle murphy

these photos belong in a museum themselves....pure art. keep up the great coverage, TONY!