Museum Musings: What Could Explode?

Others have blogged before about the importance of factoring future catastrophic changes into long term museum planning and risk assessment. As if we didn’t already have too much to do. A recent Center for the Future of Museums blog post prompted me to use this post to remind you to spend a little brain power thinking about future risks to your planet, too.

Noted historian Dave Barry stated that the highlights of the Millard Fillmore administration were “the Earth did not crash into the sun.”1 Unfortunately, President Fillmore’s daring protectionist policies may not always be here to save us. As you can see in the non-interactive video below there is a very real danger of solar incineration.

Disheartening news, particularly for those of us charged with preserving historic collections, buildings, and sites. We tell people we preserve these things forever, but nature has a way of laughing at us. This raises several questions for us: Does your community face hard choices about how it will adapt? Can you play a role in fostering discussions?

It is highly likely that this question is pertinent to you. One hundred percent of the Earth’s population lives within the solar system. The distribution of museums in the solar system is equal to the population distribution.

Since museum professionals are already too task-saturated to spend time thinking about such imminent catastrophes as global warming, the five billion years until our sun swells should be just enough time for us to start thinking about an emergency preservation plan.

And after you’ve primed your futures-thinking pump, so to speak, make time to get together with staff, community members and other stakeholders to ask “what might things be like in our community in five billion years? And is there anything we might do now, like terraforming other planets, to make that a better (and less firey) future?

1 Dave Barry. Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort Of History Of the United States. 71.

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About T.H. Gray

T.H. Gray is the self-appointed court jester and Dr. Demento for the history museum field. A lifelong museum professional and reenactor, he is a graduate of the prestigious Peale-Barnum Public History Museum Studies Program. Until 2011, when the AHS hired him away, he was on staff at the Benjamin Dover Memorial Museum & Swimming Pool ("Our History is All Wet!"). He remembers when museums were still about history, science, and art. BTW, all of these posts say they are by T.H. Gray because he can't turn off the byline. Credit, when due, is given. View all posts by T.H. Gray

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