Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling

Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling


Oct 27 2019 - Jul 26 2020
, 10AM- 5PM

JMM Original Exhibit on view October 27, 2019 – July 26, 2020

A peddler calling “Junk man! Any rags, any bones, any bottles today?”
The clatter of cans pouring into a baler.
The grinding of a building-sized car shredder.
The whistle of a cargo ship carrying obsolete computers to sorting facilities around the globe.

These are the sounds of scrap recycling: an industry that turns waste into raw materials, has given millions of people a livelihood and a community, and has propelled American industry and innovation for centuries.

For over 200 years, discarded metals, rags, paper, and animal hides have provided economic opportunities for immigrants and native-born Americans who collected, stored, brokered, and sold them – scrappers. The work was grueling, scrappers were stigmatized, and the industry was criticized as a source of social and environmental ills. Still, generations of individuals and families gravitated toward the work—including many Jewish scrappers, who made up seventy to ninety percent of the industry for at least half of the 20th century.

Extend your learning by visiting our Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling website here!

Photos of Exhibit (by Will Kirk)

Interested in bringing Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling to your museum?

Contact Joanna Church at for details.

Public Programs for Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling

Born Into It: Members-Only Opening Celebration for Scrap Yard
Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 7:00pm

Curator Talk
Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 1:00pm

New Communities from Old Iron: Jewish Immigrants and the Scrap Industry, 1890-1924
Sunday, November 3, 2019 at 1:00pm

Secondhand Travels of a Global Scrap Man
Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 1:00pm

A Greener Hanukkah
Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 11:00am

Lives Built on Scrap: A Family Biography
Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 1:00pm

Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling is made possible in part through the generous support of our donors:

Institute for Museum and Library Services
National Endowment for The Humanities
Boston Metals Co. in Memory of Morris Schapiro
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries
David Berg Foundation
Baltimore Scrap: David, Larry, Ken, and Joe Simon Liebherr
The Gershowitz Family and Gershow Recycling
Integrated Shredder Technology
Diamond State Recycling Corporation
Commercial Insurance Associates
Arnold and Joyce Fruman
The Sandy Shapiro Charitable Fund
Sue and Jerry Kline

Additional support provided by:

Deborah Zager, in loving memory of my father, Sammy Kahan, founder of Ansam Metals Corporation; Ray Aizen, Maryland Core, Inc.; Pinkert Family Foundation; ABC Box Company; Melvin A. Lipsitz Family Foundation; J. Solotken & Company; Ellen Kahan Zager and Jack Zager Philanthropic Fund; Robin Wiener and Roger Nehrer; Davis Industries; Howard Fields, in memory of my Pinkert grandad and uncles; ScrapWare Corporation; Atlantic Recycling Group; Dan Pinkert and Freddi Greenberg; Brian Shine, Manitoba Corporation; Kripke Enterprises; Neal Shapiro; Dale and Betsey Pinkert; Anonymous; SH Landsman & Sons; Ray and Nadine Weinstein; Jerome Kurman; and Richard Friedman.

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