The Passer-by Museum is a travelling institution which organises temporary exhibitions in built up urban areas. The museum´s collection comprises objects donated by those who visit it, or by people who work or live in the area in which the museum is set up at any particular time.
The aim of the institution is to preserve the physical presence of the pedestrians in a certain location through a collection which constantly comes together and grows as the donators bring a personal belonging to add to it. The museum, as such, materialises into a museum during the assembly of the acquired objects. It is free to donate objects, and the donated articles are collected, listed on an inventory, packed and then put on exhibition. These transactions (donations) take place on the street where the museum is situated, thus taking advantage of the constant traffic of pedestrians who are going from one part of the city to another. The personnel of this institution is made up of artists who present themselves to the public, dressed in navy blue suits and white shirts, acting out the rôles of curators, museum guards, museologists and technicians. Thus, the actual labour hierarchy of cultural organisations is on show.
To highlight its institutional image, The Passer-by Museum uses a didactic text and cassette to inform the potential donators of its philosophy and how it offers its services.
“The Passer-by Museum is a travelling institution which organises temporary exhibitions in different areas of a city. The museum´s collections come from donations from people just like you, those who visit it, work or live near the museum´s location at a particular time. Through the donations collected, The Passer-by Museum is the physical expression of the spirit of the district it´s located in. The museum is currently accepting donations for this space. This is why we ask you to join our effort and contribute by donating any personal object you own. If you prefer to remain anonymous in your donation, please state this when giving your contribution. For any further information, please don´t hesitate to contact the institution´s personnel. All objects donated to the Passer-by Museum shall become the full property of the same. Thank you for your cooperation”.
The Passer-by Museum, founded in 2002, opened its doors on 42nd Street in New York in the heart of Times Square. That same year, the institution moved to the zone of the disappeared World Trade Center for three months as a part of “Looking In”, an exhibition organised by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. In early 2004, with the backing of the Longwood Art Gallery and the Bronx Council of the Arts, it set up in the Bronx for two months. During August and September 2004, The Passer-by Museum/El Museo Peatonal, moved to Mexico City where it set up in various different locations of the UNAM University Campus(Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), sponsored by the UNAM Visual Arts Department and the MUCA Rome.
Pº de Recoletos, uneven sidewalk, Telefónica´s shop, near Colon square.