Treasures in the Trash


The “Treasures in the Trash” collection was curated by retired Sanitation Worker Nelson Molina over the course of his 34-year career with the NYC Department of Sanitation. Over 40,000 items are housed in Manhattan 11, an active Sanitation garage servicing East Harlem.

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.

The Foundation stewards this collection by offering public tours, partnering with other organizations for special exhibits, and ultimately strives to find a permanent home for this incredible collection.

Tours are hosted through New York Adventure Club. To schedule a tour, click here

In 2019, HELLER Films collaborated with the Foundation to produce a short film about Molina’s collection and his career with the NYC Department of Sanitation. The film explores the intricacies of Molina’s collecting, and offers unique insights on the “Treasures in the Trash” collection.