I’m Pretty Sure This Is The Weirdest Museum In Manhattan

New York

I’m Pretty Sure This Is The Weirdest Museum In Manhattan

Jun 6, 2015

I won’t deny it: being unemployed is awesome. I have absolute freedom to do whatever and go wherever I want, and finally have time to do things like go to the doctor (I’ve been to the eye doctor 5 times since I quit my job– the receptionist has started hugging me goodbye), get in shape and write a blog.

But on the days when I am in the city and everyone I know is at work, it’s admittedly sometimes difficult to find things to do to fill my time. After a Pilates/spin/Yoga class and an hour or two of writing, the rest of my day is open for adventure. The problem is, I’m still learning how to find and enjoy these adventures by myself.

So, after we got back from Europe, I convinced my friend Alix to spend a few days in New York with me to keep me company. I bribed her with promises of amazing NYC Summer-centric activities (Coney Island! The Statue of Liberty! Central Park! Biking on the West Side Highway!) and swore it would be the best trip ever.

The problem, though, was that it rained the entire time she was here.

Neither of us wanted to go bowling or to a bar (or to any of the museums that Google suggested when we typed in “Rainy Day Activities in New York”) so we had to get creative. 45 minutes of internet searching later, we found a list called “New York’s 10 Coolest Hidden Museums.” Jackpot!

So, off we went.
We settled on a place called “HOLOGRAPHIC STUDIOS” which was touted as the “home to the world’s largest collection of motion image holograms.” We didn’t really know what, exactly, a hologram was, but were intrigued by the idea of getting a “Selfie with Andy Warhol” as the website promised we could.

We walked up to what looked like a completely abandoned building near Gramercy Park, and tried to open the door. Not surprisingly, it was locked– the place had quite clearly closed down. My friend Jessie, who had joined us for the afternoon, kicked the door in frustration while all three of us swore loudly about the wasted cab money. Just as we were about to leave, a 6’3″ bald man opened the door, introduced himself as “Dr. Laser,” and invited us “into his lair.”

The “museum” was an empty black room. There were random pieces of plywood and garbage on the floor, and the whole place was covered with a layer of dust that dated back to at least 1984. As we tried to figure out a way to escape without offending Dr. Laser, who seemed thrilled to have human interaction, he flicked a switch and the walls were suddenly alight with holograms. And let me tell you, they were COOL.

He spent the next 2 and a half hours explaining to us how holograms work (which even after all that time I still don’t understand), while intermittently telling us his entire life story. It turns out he is the foremost artist in his field, and has done portraits for everyone from Andy Warhol to Bill Clinton. Allegedly, Andy Warhol had Dr. Laser’s hologram hanging in his office when he died. It was like spending the afternoon with Bill Nye the Science Guy.

As we approached hour three in the dark, dusty room, we started to try to wrap things up. “Wait!” he said as we inched toward the door, “let me show you the basement. I just need to lock the door first.”

…. Um. What?

I immediately texted a friend, with absolutely no context, “I AM AT THE HOLOGRAM MUSEUM ON 26TH STREET IN CASE I GET MURDERED,” and put my keys in my hand, sharp side forward, the way they tell you to in self-defense classes.

Dr. Laser led us down a dark set of stairs to his basement, which was even dustier than the museum. It was hoarder heaven- there was everything from a disco ball to a life-size plaster mold of a human- and we had to try not to let anything touch us he showed us how the holograms were made. Apparently, we were “inside the lens of a camera,” but I was too worried about getting skinned alive to pay attention.

He made a ton of Silence of the Lambs jokes while we were down there, which didn’t help to quiet my concerns that he was going to kill us and wear our faces as masks in his spare, non-holograph-making time.

When the tour was over  (luckily, we all survived) he gave us all souvenirs- holographic tags that he made for the brand SOUTH POLE (which I used to beg my mom to let me wear to middle school). We were hoping for life-size holograms of Tupac, circa Coachella 2012,  but apparently that’s not considered real “art” in the hologram community.

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