The Future, as Imagined in the Past

So today I got an email from the British Museum, which has several really nifty blogs.

Not surprising, because they are a museum full of very nifty things.  Someone on staff had found an article, written in 1969, thinking about how the museum will be for patrons come 2069.

britmuseumSome of the guesses are remarkably similar to things that have happened, such as the “Ten Most Famous Objects in the British Museum”.  Books of this sort can be purchased in their bookstores,

whether you want a more detailed guide to the collections, or just a highlights book of the most famous items you saw.  This idea predicts both the “History of the World in 100 Objects” exhibit and podcast series that has been so wildly popular of late, as well as the fact that the museum is a destination for whirlwind “Greatest Hits” tours from all over the world,

and frequently spend very little time looking at lesser-known museum holdings  (e.g. the Mona Lisa being swamped at the Louvre with tourists taking selfies in front of her.)

And then there is the problem of how to handle the influx of students needing to make their scholarly mark:

“It is no longer possible, because of lack of space, to allow students to read for more than two hours a day, but the extension to 24-hour opening admits twelve shifts a day. Through the floor you can also see the amusing scenes when a Student’s two-hour meter runs out, lets out a loud alarm bell, and sets off a mechanism which propels him automatically out of the door if he has not left within 60 seconds.” “Saxo Japonicus”, alias of curator/author of this article

Pretty funny, huh?  But at least we grad students would get some archaeological experience!

Truth is, this is part of an ongoing debate.  Since the British Museum is one of the western world’s oldest public institution, they have some of the most experience in dealing with the public.  They bring this to the current debate, as we can read,

What should the museums and libraries of the future look like?

British Museum of the Future


You can follow the debate by keeping up with #museumofthefuture, @britishmuseum



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