Founded in July 2014 by artist Laurelin Kruse, the Mobile Museum of American Artifacts has since been to around 20 cities on the East Coast and in the West, collected and showcased over 80 artifacts and stories from participants around the country, and has been hosted by a range of institutions including the Peabody Essex Museum, Brown University, a general store in a rural Colorado town, and a mariachi academy in Connecticut.
Laurelin envisioned the Mobile Museum of American Artifacts project while working in archives at an artist's foundation in New York City, recognizing that the archival process can increase the value and meaning of art works and historical artifacts.
MMoAA was conceived of as a way to apply this practice to vernacular objects in order to exhibit moments of everyday experience and American life.
With a small chunk of change raised through crowd-sourced funding, Laurelin purchased a 1968 Cardinal travel trailer, found in Sky Valley near Palm Springs, California. After two dozen trips to Home Depot, and with the help of two friends and a man named Salvador, Laurelin renovated the 40-square-foot trailer into a mobile museum complete with exhibition space, archives, a movie theater for one, and a library and gift shop.
Laurelin hauled the mobile museum cross country to Connecticut in June 2014, collecting artifacts and stories along the way. She drove forward the entire 3,000 miles, having not yet learned how to back up a trailer.
In July 2014 MMoAA officially launched in collaboration with the Connecticut non-profit arts organization Artspace New Haven and with the support of the National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellowship.
In 2015, MMoAA visited thirteen cities from the seaside town of Gloucester, Massachusetts to the rural, desert town of Green River, Utah. MMoAA's scope has ranged from one day events at universities to month long residencies at historic art colonies.
The MMoAA is supported through donations from visitors and honorariums provided by local hosts.