21 Collections – Every Object Has a Story

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Paper airplanes, photographs of men in rows, birds nests, gay bar matchbooks, dolls hats — an untraditional take on what warrants our attention. As part of The Kitchen Sisters’ series THE KEEPERS, we wander through a curated collection of collections at the Los Angeles Central Library examining the role collections play in telling our stories.




As research for this project, curator Todd Lerew visited over 600 museums, libraries, archives, and public and private collections, identifying those he felt told the most compelling and memorable stories.

21 Collections: Every Object Has a Story is open now until January 27, 2019 at the Getty Gallery at the Los Angeles Central Library. Free to the public.


The Kitchen Sisters produced this story in collaboration with Selene Ross.

Special thanks to Jim McKee who mixed this story and to Ken Brecher, Todd Lerew, Leah Price, Karen Collins, Alyse Emdur, Harry Smith, Craig McNamara, The Library Foundation of Los Angeles, Peter Sellars and the dozens of collectors whose heart and obsessions are on beautiful display at the exhibition.

In this episode we also hear from callers to THE KEEPERS HOT LINE {415-496-9049} — The Unofficial Archivist of Mt. Everest, Elizabeth Hawley; The Radio Haiti Archive; 19th & 20th century women scientists at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Glass Plate Collection; Christian Schwartz, 21st century naturalist and collector; Bobby Fulcher recorder and keeper of traditional rural Tennessee folk music and more.

Photos in order: 21 Collections Exhibition; Paper Airplanes – Harry Smith, Getty Research Institute; Photographs of Men in Rows, Barry Harrison; Bird Eggs and Nests, Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology; Prison Landscape Portraits, Alyse Emdur.