A bizarre little Vegas museum showcases lost and forgotten artifacts
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Walk into the Office of Collecting and Design in Las Vegas and you’ll find drawers labeled as “metal bits” and “teeth.”
All had to be opened up and explored.
As Jessica Oreck describes it, space is a “collection of collections”.
As curator of the strange little museum, Oreck draws on her background as a filmmaker, animator and artist to present lost and forgotten objects in a way that makes them charming and precious, and that are part of a larger story.
Things you will find in the “Collection of Collections”
“[The museum is] devoted to the diminutive, the scrap, the handmade, the obsolete,” Oreck said. “It’s full of unusual collections like dice you can’t play or incomplete decks of playing cards, empty matchboxes, broken animals.”
On a wall in the reading room, missing doll shoes are displayed near a set of small empty picture frames and tiny teaspoons.
“That little collection of spoons was kind of a mistake,” she explained. “My whole family, for some reason, thought my husband collected tiny spoons, and so for every holiday – for years – they would give him a tiny spoon as a gift.”
On the same wall is a collection of hawk’s feet.
“I lived in Germany for four years and worked as an apprentice falconer. Every time the goshawk killed a bird, I kept one of its legs.”
There are also hands. Eight molds of human hands, each with their own unique gesture, decorate a nearby shelf.
“I like this one in particular,” she said, lifting the rightmost one, “because it has the real fingerprints of anybody’s hand.”
Several of the collections are quirky and not something you’re likely to see anywhere else. Others are just as ordinary, like the pot filled with marbles or the assortment of buttons.
“When you arrange them together, they just have endless charm,” Oreck said. “For me at least.”
How it all began
Oreck has been collecting objects for decades.
“My parents told me I gathered before I could walk,” she said. “I was always putting together little collections of things. I really think it’s a trait. It’s an innate gene that I have and I can’t escape it.”
As a child, she received an object that would eventually represent her first collection at the Office of Collecting and Design.
“When I was 12, my aunt gave me dice that had belonged to my great-grandmother,” she says. “And that’s what really kicked things off.”
As an adult, Oreck says he enjoys hunting. You won’t find anything in the museum bought online, she only buys in person. Often from the penny jar at flea markets.
“These are the things that nobody wants, nobody really feels like they can charge for them, but they don’t want to just throw them away.”
Everything has a “past life”
Oreck likes to find treasures while traveling, which she does a lot. Especially as a filmmaker.
She lived in Finland, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea.
“I guess I did a little stint in Argentina,” she adds to the list. And then another, “Mexico”.
His “foreign gum” collection occupies two drawers.
“This one’s my favorite,” she said as she pulled out a pack of red chewing gum that says “Spout” and “splash your mouth with coolness” in bubbly white letters.
She thinks it’s from Qatar. There are so many packets of gum that I don’t know how she keeps track.
Visiting the museum is a hands-on experience. Guests are encouraged to open the drawers, play with them, and touch the items.
“Everything here just has a past life and those lives are tied to everyone, you know, that comes through here,” she said.
“I think it’s a very powerful form of nostalgia, to be able to deal with something that you don’t remember until you see it again and hold it in your hands,” she continued. “And it’s a really special experience to be able to share that with people.”
Before leaving, she will probably ask you to sign the guestbook. It is, after all, his collection of visitors to the museum of collections.
How to get there
The museum is free to enjoy.
Walk-ins are welcome on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can find the Office of Collecting and Design inside New Orleans Square near Sahara Avenue and Maryland Parkway at 900 Karen Avenue in suite B-105.