If you ask someone what they think about New York City, they’ll undoubtedly have an opinion. For those seduced by the city’s many charms, the response will probably be that of hackneyed superlatives. Naysayers, on the other hand, will issue a laundry list of grievances. You’ll hear any number of things, but I’d be willing to bet “boring” won’t be one of them. This city’s single greatest virtue is that, no matter how long you live here, you’ll never see it all.
Time and time again, it has introduced me to something new and unexpected, quite often coinciding with a period when I’ve become increasingly weary and disillusioned. Most recently, that astonishing revelation came in the form of a repurposed freight elevator shaft along a dodgy-looking alley in Lower Manhattan.
Even as I type this, that sounds a lot like the makings of a cautionary tale, and not what it is: an incredibly fascinating little museum. Mmuseumm 1 is a 36-square-foot space housing a modern natural history museum with a particularly quirky curation methodology, dubbed “Object Journalism” by its benefactor, Alex Kalman. The mission statement is as follows:
“Through the curation and exhibition of the vernacular, Mmuseumm aims to ponder, humanize, and illustrate who we are and the world we are living in.”
Within the diminutive footprint of Mmuseumm 1, each section of the shelves lining the three interior walls contains an exhibit. At the time of our visit, there were 13 in total, including such thought-provoking works as Fake American Fast Food Franchises of Iran, The Cornflake Taxonomy, Lineage of the Body Bottle, 2015: A Year in Cookies, and my personal favorite, The Last Text Message Received, which explores the intersection between digital immortality and the ephemeral nature of our corporeal lives and relationships.
Season 5 is currently on display at Mmuseumm 1, which intimates that the exhibits eventually get phased out and replaced with fresh ones. If you visit the museum’s website you’ll find a summary of each display as well as a phone number for an audio tour. Mmuseumm 2, which opened last year, is located right next door and uses its 4′ x 5′ space in a similarly engaging manner.
If you visit a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum today, it might be a stretch to imagine that Robert Ripley, its creator, was once dubbed “The Most Interesting Man in the World”. But he was indeed a tremendously popular figure in his time, collecting oddities from around the world which he initially featured in his drawings, then his radio show, then in his pervasive Odditoriums. But one could argue that his work could be considered anthropological in nature, and it feels like one could say the same of Alex Kalman’s work here at Mmuseumm. It’s a creative enterprise that feels uniquely at home in New York City.
4 Cortlandt Alley
Thursday and Friday 6-9pm
Saturday and Sunday noon-6pm
Pair it with:
A meal at Chikarashi
What started out as a modest raw fish salad served as a common Hawaiian appetizer has now become ubiquitous, first in California and more recently in New York. Poké (poh-kay) comes in myriad styles, but is generally offered in the form of either build-your-own or curated bowls. Chikarashi is an example of the latter. There’s definitely something to be said for freedom of choice, but it can also be a daunting task for the chronically indecisive. Lucky for us, Chikarashi’s Executive Chef, Michael Jong Lim, has taken all the guesswork out of the equation, offering well-balanced, flavorful bowls with the freshest, highest quality ingredients available. On our first visit one of the owners walked us through the menu, and it’s clear that the combination of flavors in each bowl was heavily considered. While the tuna was delicious, the fluke was a clear favorite.
227 Canal Street
Mon – Sat 11:30am – 9pm