Starting today, the New-York Historical Society is welcoming anyone to leave a message for the President-elect on the glass wall at its front entrance, penned on a sticky note. The public invitation is part of the museum’s new initiative to preserve a large section of the notes that have covered the walls of the Union Square subway station since the November 8 election, representing a poignant moment of solidarity. Expressing anxiety and anger but also love and hope, the messages grew out of artist Matthew Chavez’s Subway Therapy project. The colorful notes have since spread beyond the underground tunnels to spaces throughout New York City.
As Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week, the society is partnering with the MTA for this archival effort, which is part of the museum’s History Responds program. For the latter venture, the society’s curators are focusing on preserving objects “from spontaneous moments of crisis or exhilaration”; previous ephemera-turned-artifacts have included relics from marriage equality celebrations and items from the Stonewall Inn vigil for victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
“We are ever-mindful of preserving the memory of today’s events for future generations,” the New-York Historical Society President Louise Mirrer said in a statement. “Ephemeral items in particular, created with spontaneity and emotion, can become vivid historical documents. ‘Subway Therapy’ perfectly evokes this historic moment.”
Since mid-November, an estimated 20,000 sticky notes have been posted in the Union Square subway station alone. The society and Chavez, along with volunteers, started removing the notes last Friday, collecting about 4,000 for archivists to keep between sheets of mylar, as DNAinfo reported. The museum does not yet have any plans to display those notes, but you can add to the collection by posting your own on its glass wall, which is designated for new ones through January 20, Inauguration Day. Meanwhile, the walls of the Union Square station may have been cleaned up slightly, but the rate at which Post-its have been popping up in the past month suggests that bare areas are but temporary.