LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Step into the Office of Collecting and Design in Las Vegas and you'll find drawers labeled things like "metal bits" and "teeth."
All of them meant to be opened and explored.
As Jessica Oreck describes it, the space is a "collection of collections."
As curator behind the odd little museum, Oreck pulls from her background as a filmmaker, animator and artist to showcase lost and forgotten items in a way that makes them feel charming and valuable, and part of a larger story.
Things you'll find in the 'collection of collections'
"[The museum is] devoted to the diminutive, the discarded, the handmade, the obsolete," said Oreck. "It's full of collections that are unusual like dice you can't play with or incomplete playing card decks, empty matchboxes, broken animals."
On a wall in the reading room, missing doll shoes hang on display near a set of small, empty frames and tiny little spoons.
"This tiny spoon collection was sort of a mistake," she explained. "My entire family, for whatever reason, thought that my husband collected tiny spoons, and so for every holiday — for years — they would hand him a present of a tiny spoon."
On the same wall is a collection of bird feet.
"I lived in Germany for four years and I worked as a falconer's apprentice. Every time the goshawk would kill a bird, I would keep one of its feet."
There are hands, too. Eight molds of human hands, each with their own unique gesture, decorate a nearby bookshelf.
"I love this one in particular," she said, lifting the furthest one to the right, "because it has the actual fingerprints of whoever's hand this is."
Several of the collections are bizarre and not something you're likely to see anywhere else. Others are so ordinary, like the jar full of marbles or the assortment of buttons.
"When you curate them together, they have just an infinite amount of charm," said Oreck. "To me at least."
How it all started
Oreck has been collecting things for decades.
"My parents said I collected before I could walk," she said. "I was always gathering little collections of things. I definitely think it's a character trait. It's an innate gene that I have and I can't escape it."
As a kid, she was gifted an item that would eventually represent the earliest collection of hers at the Office of Collecting and Design.
"When I was 12 years old, my aunt gave me some dice that had belonged to my great grandmother," she said. "And that was what really kicked it off."
As an adult, Oreck says enjoys the hunt. You won't find anything in the museum purchased online, she only buys in-person. Often from the penny jar at flea markets.
"They're the things that nobody wants, nobody really feels like they can charge for but they don't want to just throw them away."
Everything has a 'previous life'
Oreck likes to find treasure while traveling, something she does a lot. Especially as a filmmaker.
She's lived in Finland, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea.
"I guess I did a small stint in Argentina," she adds to the list. And then another, "Mexico."
Her "foreign gum" collection takes up two drawers.
"This one is my favorite," she said, pulling out a red packet of gum that says "Spout" and "splashes your mouth with freshness" in white bubbly letters.
She thinks it's from Qatar. There are so many packets of gum, I am not sure how she keeps track.
Visiting the museum is a hands-on experience. Guests are encouraged to open drawers and play with and touch the objects.
"Everything in here just has a previous life and those lives tie to everyone, you know, that comes through here," she said.
"I think that that's a really potent form of nostalgia, to get to handle something that you don't remember until you see it again and hold it in your hands," she continued. "And it's a really special experience to get to share that with people."
Before you go, she will likely ask you to sign the guest book. It is, after all, her collection of visitors to the museum of collections.
How to get there
The museum is free to enjoy.
Walk-ins are welcome on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You need an appointment on most days. To book an appointment visit officeofcollecting.com, email email@example.com, call (725) 226-8355 or send them a direct message on Instagram at @office.of.collecting.
You can find the Office of Collecting and Design inside New Orleans Square, near Sahara Avenue and Maryland Parkway, at 900 Karen Avenue in Suite B-105.
Do you know an artist who should be featured in the "Las Vegas Art Scene" or have an upcoming art experience in the Las Vegas area to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send her a DM on Instagram @amyabdel.