In Atlantic City, Where Trump Built and Destroyed a Casino Empire, One Man Has Created an Odd Museum
The Atlantic City Trump Museum Project has gathered photos and Trump march to tell the story of what The Donald left behind.
Every Sunday this August, public historian Levi Fox sets up shop in front of Atlantic City’s soon-to-be-demolished Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. There, using a simple folding table and duffle bag, he presents roughly 60 objects, from a Trump Marina teddy bear to vintage black-and-white photos of vanished Trump properties, that piece together the complex, consequential story of how Donald Trump transformed this New Jersey town for better and worse.
Arguably, the history of Atlantic City is more entwined with the story of now-President Trump than any other. The Atlantic City Trump Museum Projectcovers a 32-year period in local history—an era that began with the opening of the Trump Plaza in 1984 and ended with the shuttering of the Trump Taj Mahal in 2016.
That same year, with Trump dominating the news, Fox began thinking of his celebrity as a source of “heritage tourism” for the distressed boardwalk town. A temporary “Trump’s Gambling Heritage Tour” highlighted The Donald’s legacy in the city, in an adamantly non-partisan way. The media it generated led Fox to imagine something even more ambitious.
Speaking with artnet News by phone, Fox says he was interested in exploring what a museum was or could be. When he first began pitching the idea two years ago, most people thought of a museum first and foremost as a “shrine” and any museum to Trump as a celebration. But building a golden altar to the Donald was not Fox’s goal.
“A museum is a place for engagement of diverse perspectives,” Fox says. Its job, he thinks, isn’t just to display objects in a public forum. It is to properly and even-handedly contextualize those objects in a way that will allow visitors to draw their own informed conclusions—a task that Fox believes can only be best done with in-the-flesh educators like himself.