The old adage tells us, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Our Arts and Collections Manager, Kevin Arrow, is a recipient of the Miami New Times’ Mastermind Awards, which honors the city’s most inspiring creatives, for truly taking this adage and transforming it into an art form. Joining the Museum in 2012, Kevin has added an important and memorable presence to the Museum, especially through the discoveries of many hidden treasures throughout the Museum’s vast collection. We sat down with Kevin to find out what inspires him and how art, science, and history are such a large and fascinating part of the Museum today.
What first inspired you to collect artifacts and other items? And what was the first item in your personal collection?
I guess as a child I became very interested in my family history. I would spend hours in my grandparents New York apartment looking through junk drawers and old photo albums trying to piece together stories. I always wanted to learn more. Some of the first items I collected belonged to my grandfather who was a steel worker who worked on the construction of the Empire State Building in NYC and was a member of the Order of the Knights of Pythias a non-sectarian fraternal order, established in 1864. I found the old pins, badges and ephemera from this order to be fascinating.
Has working at a science museum inspired any new collections in your personal life? If so, what?
My role as Art & Collection Manager has been inspirational. It has seeped into many areas of my creative practice. The collection storage facility at the museum looks like the prop room for every Wes Anderson film ever made. It is a confounding collection that has grown over a fifty year period. I am interested in the City of Miami as influential material and the museum is a great part of this community. The museum was originally built by the community, to serve the community and is a great reflection of the community. The Planetarium and anything having to do with its history continues to amaze me.
What is the most exciting finding that you have “discovered” in the Museum’s collection?
We have made numerous exciting finds. Many of these objects have been written about at length by Nathaniel Sandler, our collection writer, and can be found online at the Curious Vault section of the Museum’s blog. All of the stories are interesting and we enjoy finding the objects and telling their stories. I particularly enjoyed the entry about the Seminole Dolls, because of the local connection to our community and the relationship to my favorite artist Harry Smith. Check him out. We are currently working on a post related to the recent assessment of our pre-Columbian collection. We made some astounding discoveries, but you’ll have to check back to hear about them!
What historical artifacts have you unearthed about the history of the Museum?
I recently discovered a great box of museum negatives which reveal our earliest days. It is fascinating to see crowds of people enjoying our early NASA Space exhibitions, appreciating the model of our Planetarium before it was constructed and photographic documentation of our Giant Sloth being constructed. I also found some nice early 1960s postcards, (pictured here) I am wondering if these were part of a larger set? In fact, if any our readers have Miami Science Museum postcards or ephemera we would appreciate seeing it. If so, contact me at email@example.com.