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History in a Hallway

A visit to the Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum

Author Joe Keohane Illustration Luci Gutiérrez

dispatches1 NEW YORK CITY – When roommates Viviana Olen and Matt Harkins decided to decorate their abnormally long and functionally useless hallway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with prints of ice skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, as a goof they launched a Kickstarter campaign to establish what they called “The Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum.” They were hoping to raise about $75.

It’s been more than 20 years since Harding’s then-husband, in an effort to boost her career, hired a hitman to kneecap Kerrigan, but the scandal has apparently lost none of its lurid appeal. Within a day of launching their campaign, Olen, 28, and Harkins, 27, were fending off hordes of television producers, historians and rubberneckers. They also raised more than $2,000, leaving them with the prospect of having to launch an actual museum in their hallway.

In the hours before they open their cramped apartment to the public, Olen is busily arranging an array of photos, event passes, buttons, videos, art pieces and old periodicals. “We went on eBay for all this stuff,” she says, “which is, I’m sure, where all museums get their artifacts.”

Harkins mentions a deck of Topps Nancy Kerrigan trading cards. “They were, like, $4,” he says. “I was like, Why is this not more money?”

“And there’s, like, 36 of them,” Olen yells from the other room. “Do we have those out?”

“They’re under the bed in Artifacts Storage,” Harkins replies, adding, “It feels more climate-controlled under the bed.”

For security reasons (and to keep neighbors oblivious to their enterprise), only two visitors will be allowed in at a time. Admission will be arranged in advance, via email. “We’re going by the rules of online dating,” Olen says. “So as long as we have some chemistry, and I can verify who you are, come on up.” There will also be a suggested donation to help defray the spiraling costs of the project.

“We’re not going to make a lot of money on this,” Olen says. “We do it for the love of museum ownership.”

“We’re working hard to make sure it is actually a museum experience,” Harkins says.

“It’s a very long hallway,” adds Olen.

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