An Ode to a Closet

City’s tiniest museum opens in Tribeca with intimate focus on personal objects

From left: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie and Alex Kalman, and artifacts on display at Mmuseumm 1

Imagine if someone reproduced your current closet — the one you left in chaos this morning — as art. That is exactly what is on display at what is perhaps New York City’s smallest museum.

The whimsically named Mmuseumm 2 opened June 2 in a 20-square-foot storefront next door to, yes, Mmuseumm 1, which is located in a former freight elevator at 4 Cortlandt Alley in Tribeca.

The first museum was the brainchild of Alex Kalman, son of well-known graphic artist Maira Kalman, and his friends, the filmmakers and brothers Josh and Benny Safdie. In 2012, Kalman first decided that he had enough minutia and arcana crammed into his own Manhattan apartment to power a museum devoted, as his website explains, “to the curation and exhibition of contemporary artifacts that illustrate the complexities of the modern world.”

This was the genesis of Mmuseumm 1. It contains rotating exhibits as well as a permanent collection that includes such modern-life touchstones as a packet of Gummy Worms, an old electric-powered water boiler and a placard explaining a motel theft-prevention system. There is more political fare, too, including gas masks and police body armor.

Mmuseumm 2, a collaboration between Alex and Maira, riffs on the exploration of the mundane in an even more personal way. Here, Maira Kalman used a storefront space to recreate the West Village closet of her late mother, Sara Berman, a woman apparently obsessed with orderliness. The space recreates and displays Berman’s organization of her cable-knit sweaters, lace-up shoes and spare accessories such as her perfume and box grater.

“When she died,” Maira Kalman told the New York Times, “I just had the complete sense that her closet would be an amazing museum, and people would love to come and see it.” She said she hoped its precision and contents would offer “peace of mind and a sense of humor” to visitors.

And there are indeed visitors. These odes to whimsy have helped spice up the streetscape of a Tribeca block so sleepy that the never-ending Law & Order TV franchise often uses it as a “creepy backdrop,” according to the Times.

The Mmuseumms ask visitors for donations of $5 and is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Smart-phone accessible audio guides accompany the exhibits, including a British-accented one for “Sara Berman’s Closet.”

As for that 5-by-4-foot exhibit, it is actually smaller than the real-life West Village closet it was based on — no small feat considering the sizes of West Village closets. Mmuseumm 2 is also smaller than Mmuseumm 1, which clocks in at a whopping 36 square feet.  —Tom Acitelli

[column col=”1/3″]

Median sale prices

Studio         N/A
1 bed           $1,847,000
2 beds         $3,462,500
3 beds         $5,500,000
> 3 beds      $11,250,000[/column]

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Median rents

Studio         $4,060
1 bed           $5,290
2 beds         $8,500
3 beds         $14,950
>3 beds      $27,500[/column]

Source: StreetEasy


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