Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Pinky Show Cats’ Report on the Future


We, three cats from the Pinky Show, went to the future. We brought back notes & stuff.” Read the report .

Those of you who attended the AAM annual meeting this spring may have stumbled upon a curious exhibit in MuseumExpo—a set of cases (generously lent by Gaylord) filled with artifacts documenting the time travel expeditions of the Pinky Show cats.



You may be familiar with Kim’s interest in museums (documented in this wickedly accurate Pinky Show episode.) These recent expeditions resulted from Kim's desire to see how museums develop in the future. While not formally trained in futurism, the cats caught on fast to the fundamental principles of our practice:

One of the things we noticed when we first started time-traveling” reports Pinky, “was that often there seemed to be no obvious connections between the various moments-in-time we visited. In fact, many of the futures we experienced seemed wildly different - sometimes even apparently ‘opposite’ - from each other, even when separated by only a few years. We later learned ... that the reason for this is that the future, as it relates to the present, only exists as an infinite array of possibilities fanning outward.”

Cone of Plausability
This is great description of what futurists call the Cone of Plausibility (depicting the range of possible futures diverging from the present.)

Pinky and company visited six museums at times ranging from 2028 to 2098.. Being thorough researchers, they checked out the cafes and gift shops and observed how people use museums in the future. They discover both bright futures (where people hang out in the museum 24/7, “doing their own thing” 365 days a year), and dark futures (characterized by an over reliance on blockbuster exhibits, safe predictable programming and “edutainment.”)

I particularly like their interviews with cats they encountered in their travels, (Section V: 2028-2098 Voices from the Future). Margarita-cat offered (will offer?) the following words of wisdom: “You don’t have to be in a position of power in order to do good in this world. But you must be fearless... What does a fearless museum-worker look like?” Good question, and one I will think about a lot.

There are many ways to explore the future, and this was a pretty interesting experiment. I hope you check out the report—as Pinky says, “perhaps the diversity of artifacts presented here will serve as a reminder that a positive future can only be what we are willing to desire and fight for.”