Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

All Articles
All Articles
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

On the surface, Alex Kalman seems an unlikely candidate for the CH25 list of those designing the future. Mmuseumm, the Lilliputian “modern natural history museum” that he cofounded in 2012—with exhibits like potato-chip bags from around the world and moss—appears to be little more than an eccentric pet project. Looking a little deeper however, reveals that the concept disrupts museums themselves and has bigger implications for how we humanize ideas, in particular with the role of technology in our lives.

Citing an interest in language as a driving force, Kalman describes how Mmuseumm draws on the traditional language of a museum. As a design element, it invites people in by giving them a structure to understand the context, in spite of the 36-square-foot gallery’s location in a Manhattan alleyway. Presenting contemporary everyday objects (not the history of the object but that the object exists) in this surprisingly elevated way brings humor and joy, but also something deeper. Looking at these small things gives insight into what we’re thinking right now and who we are.

Describing the project as a “physical selfie” (and immediately cringing at how that might read), Kalman says that in some ways Mmuseumm has been influenced by the digital age. In addition to reflecting the current interest in ourselves and disrupting a physical space, he says Mmuseumm is also dealing with a “sense of nowness” that’s similar to the experience of the Internet. And, with a crowd-sourced curatorial process, the museum brings people together to tell a story, harnessing and involving communities to allow for something much greater.

This way of thinking applies to other areas of Kalman's work too. As the founder of MyBlock Education Program which trains NYC students to make videos, Kalman's mission is to put “this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible.” The idea is to diversify the media pool, giving the students value as a citizen and the world the benefit of their stories. After all, as Kalman puts it, the vernacular “is one of most sincere, intimate perspectives of a society.”

Illustration by Jason Ratliff, images courtesy of Mmuseumm

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity