3. Treasures in the Trash Trash Museum

inside trash museum, coolest museums in nyc
Molina’s trash collection of over 33 years

Located in an East Harlem garage on the second floor is one of the most unheard-of art galleries in New York City, the Treasures in the Trash Gallery. Sanitation worker Nelson Molina collected the antiques and artworks over 33 years from his job at the NYC Department of Sanitation. Molina started collecting around the time he joined the department, and more than 90% of all the pieces have be collected from Manhattan District 11 between 96th Street to 110 Street and between 1st and 5th Avenues (Molina’s route). The collection grew over time and he started categorizing all the pieces together. In the gallery, you can see a variety of things from door knobs to train sets, watches, chinaware, toys, paintings, and chairs, The whole space is brilliantly organized, each table following a theme. Incredibly, many pieces are still in working condition, from an old projector from the silent films era to dolls and toy trains and gym equipment.

With possibly over 1,000 items in the collection, visitors can toys, posters, ceramics, cameras, paintings and memorabilia. He began picking as a child in the 1960s while growing up in the Jefferson Housing Projects. His passion is ever-growing as he plans to expand the gallery and a foundation has been created to support efforts to make Treasures in the Trash a permanent museum, but due to COVID-19 visits are currently suspended for the time being.