Mellány Sánchez
Objects of Permanence

September 6–14, 2023

Objects of Permanence, a special installation curated by Mellány Sánchez and presented during New York Fashion Week, seeks to spotlight the rich histories of the Puerto Rican and other migrant community labor forces in New York City’s garment industry.

This show spotlights the Lower East Side as a pioneering capital of the garment industry in the mid-20th century. Objects in the form of artifacts, both real and imagined, work to preserve and tell the story of LES residents of the past and present, whose labor was integral to the development of New York City as a fashion capital. Simultaneously, it will unite these voices of the past to the direct descendants and beneficiaries of their legacy—today’s fashion designers.

As a nod to the Tenement Museum’s exhibition Saez Velez Family Story, the installation also features historical objects, such as shears, photographs and more, on loan from the Tenement Museum, the first time a large trove of objects have been lent outside the institution.

Objects of Permanence is free and open to the public at Abrons Arts Center from 12:45-6:15pm, with ticketed guided tours taking place twice each day.

Objects of Permanence is co-presented with the Tenement Museum.

Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library & Archives, Hunter College, CUNY


Participating Designers

About the Curator

Mellány Sánchez is a creative director from the borderlines of Queens and Brooklyn. Studied and passionate about the history of her city, community, and their futures, she works to honor these legacies through her ongoing mixed- and multi-media curatorial hero research project Aquí Me Quedo. She has also worked in wardrobe styling, brand direction and consulting. Sánchez received her Bachelor of Science from New York University in Media Culture and Communications.

About the Exhibition Educator

Jorge Gomez is a queer Latinx artist currently based in Colorado. His studio practice combines language, decorative arts history, and autobiographical narratives to address isolated and marginalized BIPOC identities, and the criminalization of LGBTQ individuals in the United States. Jorge attended Vassar College and received his Fine Arts BFA from Parsons School of Design.

About the Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum tells the stories of working-class tenement residents who moved to New York City from other countries and other parts of the country between the 1860s and the 1980s. While textbooks often overlook the stories of ordinary people, Tenement Museum tours immerse visitors in the tenement hallways, kitchens, and parlors where families carved out new lives. Visitors can view restored apartments from the 19th and 20th centuries and walk the historic neighborhood to learn the stories of generations of immigrants and migrants who helped shape the American experience. The museum is available by guided tour only. Each tour focuses on a specific theme and takes visitors to different areas of our two historic tenement buildings or neighborhood. The Museum also offers public programs, curricula, and a digital crowdsourced exhibit, Your Story Our Story to continue the conversation, using our stories as points of departure to connect the past to present.

Guided Tours

Join us for a guided 30 minute tour of Objects of Permanence with Exhibition Educator Jorge Gomez. On this tour, visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the New York City garment industry, the artifacts on view, and the historical research that informs the installation.

Why We Collect: 8 Sep, 6pm, Abrons Arts Center

Mellány Sánchez, curator of the installation Objects of Permanence, is joined by guests for a discussion about how and why we form collections of objects, and the role of garments in community storytelling.

Tenement Apartment Tour: 9 Sep, 10:30am and 11:30am, Tenement Museum

Join us for a tour of the recreated homes of the Saez Velez and Wong families. Both Mrs. Saez Velez and Mrs. Wong worked in the New York City garment industry for decades, shaping women’s fashion in the U.S. with their skills.