abandoned elevator shaft hides secret museum in NYC abandoned elevator shaft hides secret museum in NYC
jul 29, 2013

abandoned elevator shaft hides secret museum in NYC

abandoned shaft hides secret elevator museum in NYC
all images © museum



camouflaged amongst the dramatic skyscrapers and cosmopolitan locales of new york city lies an inconspicuous urban alleyway with a secret. tucked away inside the ground floor of an abandoned elevator shaft is museum, a one-room exhibition space packed with an assemblage of unconventional artifacts and found objects housed behind heavy, unmarked metal doors.


the elevator museum showcases elements of everyday life, from tips jars and newsstand paper weights to toothpaste tubes from around the world and papers accidentally left behind in copy machines.



an interior look at some of the collections on display in the elevator museum



museum founders alex kalman, and brothers benny and josh safdie of red bucket films want museum to relay the intimate stories behind strange, colloquial items, finding beauty in absurdity. they are most attracted to objects that have a human history of problem solving, that have come up with a unique way to overcome a lack of resource, and have creatively combated challenge. currently in it’s second season, the eclectic treasures exhibited chronicle the eccentricities of humanity — a selection of objects crafted by prisoners, plastic vomit from around the world, an assortment of tip jars from various venues and, part of it’s permanent collection, the shoe that was hurled at george w. bush during a press conference in 2008. museum documents everyday human history, a quiet reminder that art is everywhere.



‘surf and turf potato chips’ at museum



collections on display in the NYC elevator museum



to transform the abandoned elevator into a secret museum, the team gutted the shaftway and renovated it to include lighting and shelving. glass peepholes at the door allow passersby to marvel at the collectables 24/7, and for those visitors who miss the museum’s opening hours, a toll free hotline has been developed that relays information about each exhibited artifact via phone. the 60sq ft, free museum also accommodates a cafe and shop. it is a fitting microcosm of the essence of new york city, an unusual myriad of characters, quirks, and curiosities congregating in extremely small spaces.



museum’s cafe and gift shop



‘toothpaste tubes from around the world’, collected by tucker viemeister



‘I noticed that toothpaste is a universal media for indigenous people – a veritable blank canvas – both graphics on the generic tube and the flavors of the paste.’ — tucker viemeister



‘new york city tip jars’, collected by jim walrod



‘because of how ubiquitous tip jars are, their creators often go through great effort to make theirs unique.’

— jim walrod



‘newsstand paper weight’

‘shoe thrown at george w. bush’



the elevator shaft museum sits on a quiet new york alleyway




museum’s closed doors have glass viewing holes for viewers to peek inside during off-hours



the three founders of museum


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