Museums are usually very large repositories of culture, geography, history and science. They dazzle through their size, their displays, their permanent and temporary installations. You typically need to plan for a whole day out when you visit a museum and take a break mid-visit for refreshment. It happens to me all the time when I go to the V&A.
The M Museum in Manhattan is probably the smallest museum in the world, built in an elevator shaft at the back of an alley close to 368 Broadway. You can glance over its displays in less than a minute and walk away. Despite its size, however, the museum tells an endless, never-ending story about humanity.
The M Museum is a repository of the different objects that make our everyday life. It changes “collections” and “installations” quite often, collects objects that relate to different moments in our life, to different walks of life and puts them on display. You look at these “collections”, very often made up of 20 to 30 items and understand that the simplest items we possess or have left behind can tell the most meaningful stories about who we are and where we are going. The day I visited the M Museum I got to see:
- A collection of objects designed for the blind and using the Braille alphabet to enable recognition
- A collection of objects that people crossing into the Arizona desert from Mexico had abandoned on their way to hopefully a better life
- A collection of text messages, the last to be sent by people to their loved ones before they passed away
- Trumping everything – a shelf-full of Trump-branded merchandise.
I found the place extremely profound. I realised how much of ourselves we actually transfer to everything we own.