Sadly, most of us have lost track of our childhood ephemera these days – whether it was trading in our Talk Boys for smartphones, or literally losing our most prized stuffed animal. (We’ll never forgive ourselves for forgetting Pound Kitty at the baseball stadium.) But when a woman, known only as “Reverend Jen,” opened up the Lower East Side Troll Museum on September 20, 2000, she knew she was cementing something elusive into New York City. A bunch of fluffy-haired dolls may seem silly from the outside, but its message was not. Rev Jen, as her friends call her, has collected the toy for years, gradually amassing an impressive collection inside a tiny, technicolored Lower East Side apartment. Viewed together, her quirky collection reveals more than a strange habit. It is a true sense of whimsy, the kind of thing that makes New York a place for art to thrive, from the downright strange to the surreal.
Visitors to the museum are treated to pay-as-you-wish admission, along with Rev Jen’s wide-ranging knowledge of all things troll. Make an appointment with her, and she’ll spin tales about the many distinct dolls that inhabit the small space. From the fuscia to the fearsome, each seems to have a personality breathed into it through her stories.
Sadly, as with the toys of our childhood, the museum too could soon become a bit of New York’s own ephemera. The good Rev. Jen has declared that the Troll Museum may be forced to shutter because of rent increases, along with what she says are “a series of setbacks that occurred in early spring [...] and various other horrendous crap have sent the Troll Museum on a road to ruin.” Rev Jen also goes on to say, “this is becoming an all too common practice on the Lower East Side where the sense of imaginative avant-garde lunacy is disappearing thanks to greed.” So let’s not let this museum slip through the bleachers, folks. Head over to the the crowdfunding page here to chip in and help keep the doors open. Or to visit the museum itself (call 212-560-7235 to set up an appointment).