Karen Collins, “African American Museum of Miniatures” (all photos by Ian Byers-Gamber)

In our market-dominated art world, the word “collection” might conjure an image of crates of blue-chip artworks housed in an offshore tax haven by an investment-minded hedge fund manager. By contrast, the exhibition 21 Collections at the Los Angeles Public Library showcases assemblages of objects, often worth very little, brought together for no other reason than the idiosyncratic passions of their collectors. Curated by Todd Lerew, the show features a group of paper airplanes amassed by filmmaker and musicologist Harry Smith, a selection of Gay Bar matchbooks from USC’s ONE Archives, and even actor Tom Hanks’s vintage typewriter collection.

Darlene Lacey, “Candy Wrapper Museum”

In conjunction with the exhibition, this Sunday the library will host its first-ever Mobile Museum Fair, featuring over two dozen portable, nomadic, and wheeled cultural institutions from across the greater Los Angeles area. These range from the bibliophilic, like the Feminist Library on Wheels and Libros Schmibros’ Bicycle Library, to the zoologic, including the STAR Eco Station’s Exotic Wildlife Museum and the Aquarium of the Pacific’s mobile tide pool, where visitors can touch anemone, sea stars, and sharks. There are also more art-minded spaces, such as Self-Help Graphics’ Barrio Mobile Art Studio, a program that was originally begun 45 years ago. There will also be collections featured in the exhibition including Karen Collins’s African American Museum of Miniatures, the Camarillo Bird Museum, and Darlene Lacey’s extensive assortment of candy wrappers.

When: Sunday, January 13, 1–5pm
Where: Los Angeles Central Library (630 West 5th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)

More info at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

Matt Stromberg

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.