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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Treasure Chest

One of the most common questions I am asked by visitors is how often I partake of the city's cultural institutions - theater, music venues and museums. Sadly, the answer is not much or not enough. When I do so, the feeling is always the same - I should do more of this.
It's a shame because this city is like treasure island. And unlike the buried treasures of fable and folklore, we have real maps with real treasures clearly marked. The process of discovery is exciting and rewarding. In the case of the New York Times Capsule, we actually have a veritable treasure, perhaps not actually buried but at least entombed with hidden contents, providing all the elements necessary to evoke the child within us.
This Times Capsule is located at the Museum of Natural History outside the Weston Pavilion entrance on Columbus Avenue and 79th Street. It was installed in 2001. The design was the result of an international competition with a simple set of guidelines: devise a means of preserving information until A.D. 3000 that takes the concept of a time capsule in new directions. In the end, almost 50 designers, architects, and engineers from 15 countries submitted entries that ranged from the practical to the whimsical. A jury of New York Times editors and critics made the final selection. See some of the notable entries here.
The winning design was that of internationally renowned architect, sculptor and engineer Santiago Calatrava. The panel of judges was comprised of editors and writers at The New York Times Magazine. The Calatrava design is derived from a series of sculptures that explores the formal properties of folded spherical frames, the capsule can be sliced through horizontally, forming two halves, and then quartered. The four top segments are hinged to the bottom four, allowing them to open and close. The cavities are hollow and the eight compartments together contain about 50 cubic feet of storage space filled with Nanogel to protect the contents placed inside. The stainless steel capsule was constructed at A.R.T. Design in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, using the "lost-wax" process.
The choice of contents is of course quite fascinating. Items from Fountain, Colorado, the archetypal suburban American town, hair samples of well known individuals, various magazines, books, catalogs, newspapers, articles of personal identification, See the full list of contents here.
I would love to be at the opening ceremony, January 1, 3000. That will be quite a treasure chest ...

Related Posting: Tired of Life?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post, thanks for that. Do you know whether this was installed before or after September 11th? It would be interesting for people in the year 3000 to reflect on 2001, and not really see mention of that horrible day.

Brian Dubé said...

Anon - Thanks. It appears that the contents were installed prior to 9/11. I can't imagine what the world will be like in 1000 years. Perhaps a time capsule will be irrelevant. A quaint curiosity. Who knows.

Fernando said...

Hi Brian. I'm Fernando, from Brazil. I've just found out about this blog. I just came back from NYC and I can say that your blog is amazing. The way you captured NYC in pics is pretty cool... Thinking about doing one for my city: Sao Paulo, Brazil. Cheers!!

Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read this post. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.