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Futurist Friday: The Longest Wait for a Book EVER

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

I came across Katie Paterson’s Future Library Project in the course of researching TrendsWatch 2015, and cited it as an example of “slow culture.” Extremely slow–Paterson has planted a forest to supply paper for books that will be printed a hundred years from now. While the trees mature, she is commissioning manuscripts (one per year), that will remain locked up until the library comes to fruition. For your Futurist Friday viewing, here is a video on the project:

The most interesting aspect of the project, to me, is Paterson’s charge to the authors: “to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.” Seems to me this has similarities to the act of creating a museum collecting–trying to envision the future world we will speak to, imagine what they will want or need, what we want to say to that distant future. Of course, museums have to balance that future-focus with the need to serve audiences in our own time. How do you think collections might be different, absent that constraint? 

Here’s your thought-assignment for the day: imagine a whole museum that you would design, build, populate with collections and exhibits, and then seal up for 100 (or 500, or a thousand) years. What would you want to say to the future audience streaming through the doors for the first time? How would your presumptions about the future shape what you choose to preserve and present?


Last year we published a free app version of TrendsWatch 2014 that contained embedded videos, but we didn’t have any evidence people were using the app much (even though it was a beautiful way to read the report on an iPad). So this year I’m going to share related videos here on the blog throughout the year. If you liked the app version, let me know–maybe we will try it again next year.
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