So that you can get a better idea of what I mean by this museum concept, I’m going to start off by painting a picture of a museum that is easier to understand: the 80’s museum.
The 80’s Museum
Buy a bunch of 80’s stuff from ebay and put it in a room. Have multiple console TVs running 80’s commercials and shows. Plus not just the stuff you remember – also the stuff you forgot and only remember when you see it (is there a name for that feeling/phenomena?). Board games, home decor, toiletries, packaging, clothing. Perhaps smells of the era (perfumes, aftershaves, etc) would be good. And of course foods, both those popular in the home and in restaurants.
Instead of a “western photos booth” have an “80’s photos booth” where you can dress up in 80’s clothing/costumes.
Maybe you get to play some of the worst games or use the worst exercise equipment or explore the worst kitchen gadgets. Maybe there are even demonstrations of the appliances.
Maybe there is a “nostalgia of the era” section. This is not nostalgia of the 80’s, but instead the nostalgia people had in the 80’s for earlier decades. Like nostalgia of Elvis and the 50’s. Because an era’s nostalgia is part of the nostalgia for the era.
Maybe there are two parts of this 80’s museum. One is the 80’s museum as I’ve explained. The other is of the era that is equally in the past as the 80’s are from now. So in 2022, the museum focuses on 1982 and 1942. I think an angle like that gives a different perspective as to how time passes. It’s shocking, really. It’s hard for me to comprehend that 1982 was as far from WWII as we are from WWII today. In 1982 WWII seemed like ancient history to my 8 year-old self. Clearly, it wasn’t but part of that feeling has lingered and it gives me perspective to see it now.
Not Just America
I am thinking the 80’s museum is of the American 80’s. But, presumably, everywhere else in the world also experienced the 80’s. It would be curious to see what was happening at the same time in other countries.
Comparing two or more countries perhaps in side by side dioramas of the 80’s might give an interesting perspective on change. For example: Dubai. In the 1980’s Dubai was far, far different than the city it is today. Most of Dubai didn’t even have electricity in 70’s. If there was America 80’s and America Today and Dubai 80’s and Dubai today, that might also give us a new perspective.
Similarly, we could show places that haven’t developed at all since the 80’s and still struggle for basic needs.
More Side By Side Decades Museums
Looking to the Future
What would the decades look like through the future? The future is usually imagined in one generalized “the future” where we’ve reached the pinnacle of technology and society in every category. But what if we had to make a museum that predicted each of the next 30 decades? What developments and changes would each decade see? Not see? And then, as the decades come into existence, we could compare predictions to actual outcomes as we update the museum. We could already explore this concept by comparing past predictions to what actually happened. What was predicted for the 80’s in the 40’s that happened? What didn’t happen? What sort of happened?
Looking to the Past
We could also go the other way. What do we think happened in the 40’s versus what actually happened in the 40s? That could make an interesting side by side as well.
Or a slightly similar angle of the past: what have we forgotten didn’t exist. I think of that moment in the movie Apollo 13 where they have to do some astronaut math and they pull out their slide rules. Because there were no calculators.