January 22, 2009

The Museum of Impossible Things

I was listening to a story on NPR the other day because I am a snooty suburban know-it-all and that's what I listen to. When my normal trashy guy-talk afternoon-drive show is playing commercials. They were doing a series about museums which you'd think, when discussed on the radio, would be less than interesting. But it was pretty fascinating. Anyway, I'd missed most of the week's segments but stumbled on the piece they were doing that day and I was immediately intrigued.

Specifically, the piece discussed the future of museums, how to get people interested in them and, also, how to get those people - or all museum visitors - to start solving problems we face. To think outside the box, as it were. That's when the most brilliant idea of all was brought up.

Apparently, someone in Amsterdam came up not with The Museum of Pot or The Museum of Historical Sex Workers but, instead, The Museum Of Impossible Things. The idea is this. The Museum of Impossible Things consists of exhibits of things that are impossible. Impossible to build, impossible to achieve, whatever. And inspired individuals come to the museum to make those things possible, after which those things go out into the world and do whatever it is they're designed to do, not having a place in the museum since they are no longer impossible.

I think that's pretty much the coolest idea ever and it got me thinking. We now live in a world in which an African American man is president, something thought impossible for a long time. So, what next? What exhibits would you put into the Museum of Impossible Things? And what museums should exist that don't?

Posted by Chris at January 22, 2009 6:28 AM
Comments

That actually reminds me of Dan Wilson's "Where's My Jetpack". He also wrote "How to Survive a Robot Uprising" and is a great guy. The premise of the Jetpack book is that most of the 50's and 60's science fiction IS invented, but it's just not perfected that we would use it.

Dan's also a really great guy, and now makes a living as a writer after getting his Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon.

Posted by: alektra at January 22, 2009 7:06 AM

Ah, redundancy... Sorry bout that...

Posted by: alektra at January 22, 2009 7:06 AM

Have you ever been to Italy? Greece? Have you seen all those stone statues of NAKED MEN? (Caps are there to generate more readership). Did you notice anything about those guys?

A lot of them are missing their STONE PENISES.

Understandable. If your dick is as hard as a rock and you've been moved (from pillar to post, as it were) for thousands of years, sooner or later, some clumsy moving crew is going to manhandle you, and your man handle will fall off.

What do you think they do with all those lobbed knobs, those wrecked peckers, those wronged schlongs?

They pick them up and take them to The Museum of Stone Penises.

I'm not suggesting that this is a museum that SHOULD exist. It does. It was erected thousands of years ago. The question is where? Like the DaVinci Code, it is a mystery whose roots go back for centuries.

Some day they'll find it. And when they do, they're going to attract a lot of people. Mostly, I suspect, middle aged men driving Ferraris.

Posted by: Marshall at January 22, 2009 7:43 AM

Okay I would put in dark chocolate. The impossible part is I love to eat it, but it goes straight to my hips. I would love it if they could make it possible to eat chocolate without gaining weight!

Posted by: Maribeth at January 22, 2009 7:45 AM

I would put in an exhibit on perfect drivers.
You know, where every one uses signals, has common courtesy, and follows the rules of the road.

Posted by: Jen at January 22, 2009 8:12 AM

Hi Chris- a few thoughts for you........I watched the Obama love fest from Canada. We had an opportunity to move here 4 years ago and one of the reasons that I gladly took that opportunity was W. I've not hidden that. I did think that it was very respectful of the Obamas to see the Bush family out to the helicopter to say good-bye. It's never been done before and it was respectful. Obama may not believe in Bush politics, but he doesn't let that get in the way of how his mama raised him. A good lesson for us all.

As for the amazing Mia? My son Aaron (age 7) now asks what she is up to. He says "rock on Mia" Legos are cool. :)

Sorry for the long comment---go forward and state your opinions with dignity. I'm sure that's the way your mama raised you.

Posted by: Christy at January 22, 2009 8:38 AM

Hi Chris- a few thoughts for you........I watched the Obama love fest from Canada. We had an opportunity to move here 4 years ago and one of the reasons that I gladly took that opportunity was W. I've not hidden that. I did think that it was very respectful of the Obamas to see the Bush family out to the helicopter to say good-bye. It's never been done before and it was respectful. Obama may not believe in Bush politics, but he doesn't let that get in the way of how his mama raised him. A good lesson for us all.

As for the amazing Mia? My son Aaron (age 7) now asks what she is up to. He says "rock on Mia" Legos are cool. :)

Sorry for the long comment---go forward and state your opinions with dignity. I'm sure that's the way your mama raised you.

Posted by: Christy at January 22, 2009 8:38 AM

Wow, that IS cool idea. If it were me, I'd add in a Delorean with a mock-up Flux Capacitor, in hopes a "Doc" would come along and make it go 88 Mph. LOL.

Posted by: Claire at January 22, 2009 9:00 AM

Crap I did not know I was a snooty suburban know-it-all for listening to NPR but seriously I live in the middle of nowhere and there are exactly three stations (One of which plays all kiddie pop which UGH)as well as NPR from the local university and station from Indy. The rest are Christian/country stations...

Any who, can you put world peace in a museum? how to stop a thousand years of civil war in certain parts of the world? Time travel - is it real or just Lost fiction?

Posted by: Christina at January 22, 2009 9:27 AM

I had some cool answer then I read Marshalls comment an I got all distracted

Posted by: William at January 22, 2009 9:49 AM

All I can think of is that someone needs to invent something that makes conference calls completely irrevelent to society, thus freeing up the majority of my days.

Posted by: Claudia at January 22, 2009 10:23 AM

Can we put a *woman* president in the Museum of Impossible Things? Just to prove it wrong? Someday, maybe?

Posted by: Laura Svendlor at January 22, 2009 11:13 AM

Based on the same concept as the improbability drive, I would include the Museum of the Impossible within the Museum of the Impossible. It would either create it instantly, or create a recursive loop from which there would be no escape.

But along the same lines ( big thoughts about deep stuff ) have you noticed how much the adage "Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and the corollary "Any significantly advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology" is true today? Now granted, I am in a bit of a fog from cough medicine, but I am sitting at a desk moving my hands in a particular pattern over top of an energized totem and my thoughts become available to the whole world, given that they know the right incantations and hand movements to make. And my fog is from taking an elixir that was combined in a distant cauldron, brought to me by chariots powered by fire, and purchased by waving a magic wand over a magic box.

- or -

I'm typing at my keyboard and the electrical signal is flowing through the wires to be housed on a distant server accessible through the web. I took some cough medicine that was delivered to the store by a truck, and I paid for it using my credit card.

Semantics?

Oh, and I love the fog of cough syrup.

Posted by: metawizard at January 22, 2009 11:13 AM

Uh, let's put the cure to cancer in there. The 100%, works every time kind.

Posted by: jaycie at January 22, 2009 11:36 AM

Well, cars and planes were impossible at one time.

Posted by: k8 at January 22, 2009 11:37 AM

My favorite offbeat museum is the Peace Museum in Chicago. It's a two room loft in a ghetto but SO worth seeing. As for impossible things, howabout:
A (democratic) female President in the Oval Office?
Nanotechnology that can cure all kinds of illnesses? (I know, I know, they're working on it...)
A Museum For A Healthy Planet (didja hear the NPR story this morning about the guy who is advocating eating animal products "in moderation"? I know we veg people are already doing that, but his argument is pretty tame and therefore, might be an easier sell).

A Museum for Three Year Olds Who Eat Their Dinner, Brush Their Teeth, Go to Sleep for Ten Hours and Wake Up Happy- that's what I wanna see.

Posted by: rebecca at January 22, 2009 11:46 AM

That's very Alice In Wonderlandy. And I love it. Now I have to add Amsterdam to my list of places to go. As if the Red Light District wasn't enough incentive. :)

Posted by: Mr Lady at January 22, 2009 1:06 PM

Lite beer that's worth drinking.

Posted by: Gramps at January 22, 2009 1:20 PM

Funny that you bring up museums. We're planning a trip to Monkeytown to museum-hop very soon.

As for what to put in the Museum of impossible things...I'd like to see a paycheck that lasts longer than an hour.

Posted by: Ames at January 22, 2009 1:24 PM

the rest of your readers are far more clever than I :P
What I'd like to see...me...well rested. (and now you know why I'm so dense. heh.)

Posted by: Heather at January 22, 2009 2:08 PM

I too thought this was a very interesting idea, and great post, and I'm sure I was thinking of some great fabulous museum, however, Marshall's post also blew all ideas absurd and not so much out of my head.

Thanks to both of you for entertaining me, making me think and making me laugh!

Daisy

Posted by: Daisy at January 22, 2009 5:14 PM

I too thought this was a very interesting idea, and great post, and I'm sure I was thinking of some great fabulous museum, however, Marshall's post also blew all ideas absurd and not so much out of my head.

Thanks to both of you for entertaining me, making me think and making me laugh!

Daisy

Posted by: Daisy at January 22, 2009 5:15 PM

I would put in the following exhibit: a safe and effective method for ensuring children under the age of 13 sleep past 7am on weekend mornings. Oh, please, let someone find the answer to that one. I've got 7 more years to go, and I miss sleeping in on the weekends.

Posted by: gabrielle at January 22, 2009 8:12 PM

along the same lines as gabrielle: a safe & effective method for ensuring children over the age of 13 get up before 2 pm on weekend - er - days...
(sorry... that's the best I can do as my subconscious is still wrassling with notion of the Museum of Stone Penises)

Posted by: harmzie at January 22, 2009 9:46 PM

The Museum of Movies Where Asians Are Not The First To Die.

Posted by: Aurelia at January 23, 2009 1:03 AM

Like others I started with nobel idea's like World Peace etc, but my mind began wandering to pink elephants and flying pigs for some reason....

Posted by: english thorn at January 23, 2009 12:45 PM

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