Museum of Broken Windows

The Museum of Broken Windows is a pop-up experience in New York City that features the work of artists from around the country. The Museum showcases the ineffectiveness of broken windows policing, which criminalizes our most vulnerable communities. The strategy of broken windows policing is outdated and has never been proven to be effective at reducing crime. For decades, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by broken windows policing.

The Museum of Broken Windows demonstrated the need for change and New Yorkers came together for important conversations on policing and safety. Using art and creativity, the Museum of Broken Windows provided a powerful and emotional experience that critically examined the system of policing in New York. The Museum of Broken Windows was a project of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The Museum was a retrospective exhibition of broken windows policing in New York. We began our journey in 1968, a significant year in the exhibit. The Museum escorted guests through the various decades, by utilizing subway turnstiles and artwork that focused on policing in the subways. There were powerful pieces that represented the important events of the 1990s, including front page covers of Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo from The New York Daily News and a commissioned piece that highlighted the 1999 “Rap Intelligence Unit” or Hip-Hop Police. Moving into the 2000s, we included pieces on “stop-and-frisk,” Eric Garner and a powerful image of Mayor de Blasio at an NYPD graduation.

The next section of the Museum spoke the impact of broken windows tactics on a national and international scale. The Writing on the Wall, a collaborative piece by artist Hank Willis Thomas and educator Dr. Baz Dreisinger, lined an entire corner of the Museum and displayed hundreds of unique illustrations and letters from people who are incarcerated in the U.S. and abroad. Another important piece in this section was  ...and counting. Created by artist Ann Lewis, this large scale installation was composed of 1,093 toe tags that hung under an illuminating skylight. Each toe tag featured the name of a person killed by the police in 2016. 13 toe tags featured the names of individuals who were killed by the NYPD.

Additionally, the exhibit featured the powerful work of Philadelphia-based and formerly incarcerated artist Jesse Krimes and Baltimore-based artist Tracy Hetzel, who created watercolor portraits dedicated to the “Mothers of the Movement.”

The show ended with an invitation to reimagine policies rooted in compassion and justice. Visitors left the space with the two important reminders: 1.) “You Have The Power” and 2.) “Hope is not magic. Hope is work.”