For 34 years, New York Sanitation worker, Nelson Molina collected items in the trash on his route in East Harlem. Over 45,000 items, all catalogued and organized, currently live on the second floor of the M11 garage on East 99th Street. Nelson retired from the job in 2015, but comes to the garage routinely to check in on his "museum."
Through his tireless efforts to rescue, repair, and organize these discarded objects, Molina reminds us that there are alternatives to waste, and gives us an opportunity to pause and consider our own consumption habits. The vast array of items is a stunning visual reminder of what we value — or don’t value —and the scale of what we throw away. A keen observer can also see smaller narratives woven throughout, telling us stories of Harlem, of Nelson’s life, and of New York City itself.
Director Nicolas Heller documented Molina’s collection in his film 'Treasures in the Trash' to help raise awareness for the collection. 'Treasures in the Trash' premiers Wednesday, September 25 at El Barrio's Art Space.
In collaboration with the Foundation for New York’s Strongest, Only NY will be offering an exclusive benefit t-shirt on Wednesday, September 25 at 12PM exclusively online to raise funds for a future museum to house Nelson Molina’s eclectic collection.
Directed by Nicolas Heller