My love for a good, old-fashioned obsessive collection has been well-documented (see here, here, and here). As someone with a soft spot for objects that deserve a good home, I find that the line between adding to your collection and leaving something for someone else to find is a fine one. At the thrift store I can convince myself that someone else will come along and give that amazing object a good home, but what about when something interesting is destined for the landfill? How do you say no then?
Perhaps this sense of rescuing things just before they’re lost forever was the motivating force behind the collection of Nelson Molina. A now-retired New York City sanitation worker, Molina began collecting objects from the trash to decorate his locker. 30 years later, his “Treasure in the Trash” collection now takes up one entire floor of a sanitation department warehouse in East Harlem. The collection (which is sadly not open to the public) lives on as a reminder of the value, humor, and strangeness of broken and discarded things. One man’s trash is clearly another man’s warehouse full of treasure.