Visitors to the Wolfsonian-FIU can learn about some scarcely seen artifacts later this month when Nathaniel Sandler takes guests on a tour of the museum’s archives.
Sandler is the operator of Miami’s own mobile library, Bookleggers, and has always had a keen interest in exploring museums. To share his passion with South Florida, Sandler secured a Knight Foundation grant to fund Crypt Cracking events, which open local museums' permanent collections — including items that usually sit in storage, out of public view — to visitors.
Sandler has been scouring museum archives for some time, and the Wolfsonian event will not be his first trip behind a library’s closed doors. He has done extensive work throughout museums and archives in the Miami area. Notably, he has worked at Vizcaya, University of Miami Special Collections, and the Phillip & Patricia Frost Museum of Science, where he found long-lost maps that suggest pyramids might be hidden in the Everglades.
“In all the other museums, we found tons of interesting things,” Sandler says. “Any of the stuff can be interesting if you look at it in the right light, and I think that’s the point of the project.”
The Wolfsonian event, called Into the Stacks, is free and open to the public. Guests will receive complimentary wine and a packet containing information about the evening’s selections. Sandler says that visitors can expect this event to be unlike other museum trips and that the presentation will infuse history with humor.
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“I think one of the things I try to do with public programming is to be fun,” he says. “There’s nothing interesting in standing around a museum object and being stuffy and boring. I try to liven up this experience as much as possible through jokes, booze, interesting angles. It’s going to be fun.”
Sandler, who has always been interested in art and history museums, considers Miami a prime place for projects such as this one. “Because Miami is new, the institutions are still growing, and there aren’t people pitching these sorts of projects. There aren’t people doing these sorts of things,” he says. “And it makes it ripe for finding these sorts of stories nobody has seen before.
"Because nobody is really digging around in these rooms yet, there’s a lot of potential.”
Into the Stacks. 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, January 26, at the Wolfsonian-FIU, 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-1001; wolfsonian.org. Admission is free, but RSVP is required via the museum's website.