C-3PO tape dispenser at the Museum of the Moving Image
Wooden brick from The City Reliquary
Elkhorn Ranch diorama at the American Museum of Natural History
Anthony Weiner's sext transcripts
Prayer beads made from snake spine at the Rubin Museum of Art
Museum collections aren’t just full of old paintings and historic artifacts—you’ll also often find bizarre items that you won’t see anywhere else. Check out six of the weirdest artifacts found in New York museum collections, including one of Anthony Weiner’s sexting transcripts at the Museum of Sex. (You’ll never look at the mayoral hopeful the same way again.)
RECOMMENDED: Museums in New York
Here’s a fun hobby: Since 1985, Conceptual artist Adrian Piper has been collecting her hair and toenails in empty honey jars. Whenever she fills one, she adds it to a shelf on display at MoMA. Eventually, Piper hopes to have her cremated remains added to the installation. Contemporary Galleries, second floor.
Hey, C-3PO, is that a roll of tape in your, ummm…or are you just happy to, uhhh.… This misguided piece of movie merchandising was produced in 1980 to promote The Empire Strikes Back; the company responsible also made mugs featuring the heads of other Star Wars characters. “Behind the Screen” exhibit, second floor.
This tiny Williamsburg collection devoted to NYC ephemera probably has more bizarre items than any other institution in the city. But we’re drawn to this artifact from a long-forgotten Gotham: a weather-beaten block from the last-known wooden sidewalk in Brooklyn, which ran along Greenpoint’s West Street in the 19th century.
You can’t accuse the AMNH of skimping on the details. Last year, in order to lend realism to this diorama in the Hall of North American Mammals, curators added a little something extra: actual pronghorn doo-doo, collected by park rangers at the real-life Elkhorn Ranch in Montana. The poo was freeze-dried, then placed with a coffee scoop.
“i hear liberal girls are very, uh, accommodating of others.” Thus begins the creepy foreplay section of then-Representative—and, improbably, current mayoral hopeful—Anthony Weiner and blackjack dealer Lisa Weiss’s series of 2010–11 Facebook messages. The full three-page transcript is on display in MoSex’s “Universe of Desire” exhibition.
Prayer beads come in a wide variety of sizes and materials, but these two particular strands, both Tibetan, are some of the strangest. One set, made from the vertebrae of a snake, was likely used in Himalayan shamanic rituals. Another set is made from a human skull and was probably used for wrathful tantric practice. “Count Your Blessings” exhibit (opens Aug 2).