Sunday, August 11, 2013

Time To Get Out Of The Kitchen




Sometimes the most interesting things you come across in a museum are not what you see but what you read. The titles and descriptions that summarize exhibits say a lot about both the period being presented and the time when the exhibit/museum was constructed or overhauled. This was the case last weekend when my wife and I visited the State Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

As we turned the corner we came across various household items demonstrating the progression of technology and convenience that the industrial revolution brought about at first and what electricity accelerated. It was quite an interesting exhibit with many items that we had seen and some that we were experiencing for the first time. However, what struck us as a little outdated was the title, in big bold capital letters, at the top of one of the dividers:

“MACHINES BEGIN TO FREE THE HOUSEWIFE’S TIME”

Of all the items in the museum, this simple slogan seemed to be the mostly antiquated as it said nothing to elaborate upon the overall convenience that technology has brought into homes for the entire family. It was indeed gender specific and one that wasn’t offensive it was just plain odd as it demonstrated the age not of the artifacts but of the museum itself. It was like stepping inside H.G. Wells’ mind after he took a hit of acid; it kind of made sense but at the same time you were disoriented and wondering where you were and what year it was.

In addition to the vernacular of decades past, the evolution of the commonwealth seemed to come to a screeching halt sometime in the 1980’s. I half expected to see a DeLorean parked out in front of the building as we left. It really was kind of sad that the museum had been left to a time done by neglected by technology and without pride in one’s commonwealth. No wonder I don’t ever recall having taken a school trip to see the history of our state.

Given the needed strictures placed on our economy maybe it is time to explore other options as a way to maintain these facilities. I don’t know what specifically needs to be done but I know that something should be done. I say all this without a thought through solution in mind but with the hope that we can rejuvenate this and other facilities throughout the state so that our history is not forgotten for when the keystone crumbles the rest of the structure will surely follow.