NYC’s best secret gallery is a collection of rescued trash (video)

Treasures in the trash
Screen capture Guardian Culture/YouTube

A New York City sanitation worker spent over 30 years picking treasures from garbage; the jaw-dropping array is displayed in a sanitation department warehouse.

If there were ever a more eye-opening tribute to the things we toss I’d be surprised. On an upper floor of an East Harlem garbage truck depot lives the Treasures in the Trash collection – an assortment of curated garbage plucked from the trash bins of New Yorkers over three decades. It’s an astounding array of collectibles, much of it suitable for an antiques shop.

Sanitation workers are not allowed to bring home the treasures they might find in the garbage – so (now-retired) sanitation worker Nelson Molina did the next best thing. He started decorating his locker with cast-off treasures, explains Dylan Thuras at Atlas Obscura. Now Molina’s collection spreads out over aisles upon aisles of carefully organized displays, taking up an entire floor of the warehouse. Thuras writes:

The space is populated by a mind-bogglingly wide array of items: a bestiary of Tamagotchis, Furbies; dozens of Pez dispensers; female weight lifting trophies; 8-track tapes; plates, paintings, sporting equipment and much more.

And indeed, it is so mind-boggling. (In the Guardian video below you can see just what a collection it is.)

How profound that these are the things we feel are worthy of the landfill, that even treasures are disposable. And even more profound that someone took it upon himself to rescue this precious stuff and give it the love and respect it deserves. Things shouldn’t be made in vain, and they shouldn’t be tossed in vain either … as illustrated so beautifully with Molina’s Treasures in Trash.

The collection does not keep regular hours, but visits can be arranged by emailing In the meantime, take a tour with Molina in this lovely video:

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