The City Reliquary Museum Tries to Save Itself


The City Reliquary Museum and Civic Organization in Williamsburg was never a profit machine. Founder Dave Herman told the Voice in 2006 “We’re not very good at PR. We all just do what we enjoy doing and hope people will find out.”

Just now, Herman says that isn’t working out all that well. Due to rent, rising utility costs, and a few grants that failed to materialize, the non-profit storefront museum may be forced to close if they can’t raise $20,000 by the end of March. Even with the profits from February’s New York City Firefighter Date-Auction, they’re not there yet.

“We’re struggling to keep this place open,” said museum Vice President Bill Scanga. “You know, it’s a place that’s run on passion and love and we’re running out of money and we need to pay our rent.”

They’re hoping a March 12 Queens Museum Panorama Contest, March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Benefit at the Knitting Factory and membership donations will get them the rest of the way.

If the Historical Society is New York’s Attic, the City Reliquary is New York’s Dotty Aunt’s Tchotchke Shelf. Herman founded it in 2002 as a museum “for the people,” with a collection of his own random artifacts, and added geological samples, urban archaeology finds, and stuff donated by people in the neighborhood. The front window features local collections (this month, it’s Amanda B. Friedman’s Unicorns). The current exhibit – Company Journals of the Southside Firehouse – was curated by a firefighter from Hook and Ladder 104.

They sponsor movie nights, an annual Brooklyn Bridge Birthday bike ride, and art installations by kids from a local elementary school.

The gift shop sells dirt from all five boroughs and bottles of East River Water.

The Museum has appeared here before as a Best Of (Best place to donate your old bubble gum collection or best-dressed window museum) and the site of the Miss G Train Pageant. Follow them on Twitter here.

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