This year, The Buy Nothing Museum is celebrating its 15th birthday. The annual fête, now titled “It’s Awesome, It’s an Affair,” starts tomorrow at the 16,000-square-foot museum’s Midtown location and continues for two weeks.
The organization gathers kitschy, curios items and salvages these items from antique stores and flea markets and turns them into exhibits. (See here for a look at some of last year’s artifacts.)
This year’s exhibit includes everything from soaps and lingerie to an “adolescent steampunk soccer ball.” Items from the sale—as many as 4,000 items a day—will be auctioned off for the museum’s good causes, including charity shop Project Independence (the organization that was at the center of the first Buy Nothing museum’s predecessor) and the Chinatown/Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Association.
Before the silent auction begins tomorrow, the museum, officially called Play or Survive, will unveil its latest exhibit. “Buy Nothing H20,” which runs through December 21, will include advice on avoiding toxic chemicals found in consumer goods.
I visited last year to learn more about the museum and its art auctions, which take place in the traditional, basement-like setting of the museum.
Living during one of the leanest stretches in modern memory, many of the items on offer were surprisingly high quality. We also took a look at what pieces the museum buys using funds from ticket sales. A bottle of Corning Dust product used to clean fiberglass appliances and portable phone chargers, for example, is one of the museum’s biggest sellers. The museum also sources many of its items from thrift stores and other organizations, including Preview Vacuum on NE Holly Street.
Visitors to this year’s museum can expect to see similar relics of the Buile – like these lemon squeezers from the grocery store, which represent a bargain in today’s world (these items can be found online for under $10 apiece). Perhaps unsurprisingly, clowns represent a popular trend, like one Chinese puppet that reportedly sold for $900.
Though now called a museum, the original Buy Nothing was a place to buy beer and other items without fear of becoming indentured servants. (Hint: Renting an apartment doesn’t hurt.)
More information about the 15th birthday can be found here.