Lost and Found

Lost and Found

A photo essay. To view all 31 images, check out the email version of this story.

A genuine Whitney Armory rifle. A section of the old Yale Fence carved with “T.W.R. ’33” (as in 1833). The receipt machine from Cutler’s. The—the—Anchor Restaurant sign.

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Splashy headliners though they are, those items comprise just a thousandth of the local treasures to be found at Lost in New Haven, an unconventional museum whose director and curator, Robert Greenberg, wants visitors to feel like they’ve stepped inside a gigantic cabinet of Elm City curiosities—many of which New Haven had lost before Greenberg found them. Currently located at 424 Grand Avenue, it occupies a portion of a raw industrial-style facility shared with Reclamation Lumber and is usually open only by appointment. That temporarily changes this weekend, when the museum welcomes visitors, who are encouraged to offer a $10 donation, from noon to 6 p.m. for City-Wide Open Studios.

To experience Lost in New Haven is to both lose and gain track of time. You could browse among the four to five thousand items for one or two hours and think only half an hour had passed, all the while gaining an appreciation for decades and centuries past. Greenberg’s cleverly arranged displays, most of them unmediated by glass and grouped by topic or theme, are high on visual impact and low on text, and while touching the objects is prohibited (aside from a vintage shopping cart that’s meant to be pushed), you come away with an almost tactile understanding of the metal tools and the machine parts, the embossed bottles and the ceramic jugs, the novelty matchbook promoting Hot Tomato’s and the dried tobacco leaves representing Connecticut’s agricultural history.

That said, none of it may be where it is for much longer. Greenberg says the facility lacks climate control, and, meanwhile, his collection is already outgrowing it. Though he’s thankful to have the place, crediting local supporters including Laura Clarke, Alexis Gage, Wendy Hamilton and Roslyn and Jerry Meyer with the financial and other assistance necessary to make it work, Greenberg says he has his eye on a couple of spots around town, hoping to be able to move sooner than later.

Of course, the future of Lost in New Haven is something only time can tell.

Lost in New Haven
424 Grand Ave, New Haven (map)
Sat 10/12 & Sun 10/13 noon-6pm; $10 suggested donation.
Otherwise, by appointment only.
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Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image features Robert Greenberg inside Lost in New Haven.

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