#102 February 1997
Section 220.127.116.11.102.of the Artemis Data Book
Musings by Peter Kokh from a visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum, while on jury duty lunch break 9/13/'96
For many people, museums are dusty, musty old places filled with assorted collections of useless items with no relevance for daily life. Their loss. Museums are meant to be, and are indeed for those in on the secret, well springs of inspiration in dealing with the world of today and everyday. People who visit them, even "once in a blue moon," can scarcely avoid leaving their halls without a sense of being enriched with a greater insight into the present as well as a heightened appreciation for the past, and even -- here is the punch line -- with a more well-founded cautious optimism about the future.
The Natural History exhibits help correct our sense of place in the cosmic scheme of things and events, infecting us with deeper respect for our birth planet and its features, and with a greater sense of connection with our plant and animal kingdom fellow travelers in this biosphere of tightly interwoven interdependencies. We see illustrated our calling to serve as stewards for what we have inherited.
The cultural exhibits give us new awareness of the contributions to the material and artistic and scientific wealth we all enjoy today -- contributions made by those who have gone before. Exhibits of foreign and of primitive cultures teach us that our solutions are not the only ones, and that resourceful coming to grips with local environments and assets is a universal manifestation of the human spirit, its problem solving powers, and its hardship and disaster meeting resilience.
What might a future Lunar Pioneer Museum display? Two classes of deposit materials are already on hand and need not be shipped to the Moon. Soil ("regolith," the meteorite-pulverized blanket layer that covers the lunar surface) and rock and meteorite samples to be collected from the various representative types of lunar terrain. These can be exhibited in diorama contexts to acquaint museum visitors with the makeup of the lunar landscape both locally and in other, perhaps quite different regions. Other dioramas will bring to light what it is like within the eternally dark lunar lavatubes. The Moon's geological Past, Present, and Future will be unfolded.
Second, there is the now 2.5-3 decades-old relics of the half-dozen human scouting expeditions of the Apollo Program as well as relics of robotic missions from before, and since -- the museum "hope chest" some shallow-thinking people call "trash."
The purpose of a museum is to visually remember and appreciate the Past in the Present through samples and representations displayed in context. In this manner the roots of local culture and civilization are illuminated, and those who come to study these displays gain a cross fertilization of ideas, inspiration in current challenges to resourcefullness, and confidence that we can always find ways to adapt to current conditions as have all past populations. Visitors come to appreciate the ever-surprising adaptability of life and man, the viability and poly-expressiveness of life. Collections and collectibles illustrate the enormous variety of nature as of human possibilities. We learn about the relationships of living ecosystems (natural, and post-human alike; of Earth's planetary Biosphere, and in working (or struggling) off-planet mini-biospheres. The dependence of human life on nature, both geologically and biologically, is brought home. Relationships, progress, evolution, revolution, etc. -- the never-ending epic of nature, life, and man.
The Luna City Museum of 2097 should be no different. Starting with the two classes of natural and human artifacts already on hand, the museum's job will be to successfully chronicle the unfolding of the human frontier. The visitor of 2097, be he or she a visitor from Earth or a native born 4th-generation Lunan, will learn how those who have gone before have built up the lunar civilization of the day, bit by bit, resourcefully and without discouragement through an endless list of challenges, hardships, and sacrifices, setbacks, and temporary tragedies.
Early products of the frontier settlements and their slow, steady diversification and growing sophistication and level of attainment will be on display. Arts and crafts, apparel, games, furniture, furnishings, homes, meals, shops and shopping, occupations, amusements, hair fashions, festival trappings, hobbies, schools, musical instruments, street scenes, sports, frontier lifestyles and hardships -- these will all be on display in variety, joining displays of the products of heavier and more mundane pioneer lunar industries.
The special contributions of immigrants from various terrestrial nations and ethnic backgrounds will also be displayed, their diversity being most strong in arts and crafts contributions. One "wing" of the museum might be occupied by the "Streets of Old Luna City" exhibit. In 2097, native-born Lunans may have come to take their culture and now successful and thriving civilization for granted. It will be the museum that will get across to them, how precarious and problematic life was for their ancestors. Humility, inspiration, encouragement, and determination to do the past and one's forbearers proud should be among the fruits of the visit. For museum visitors from Earth, any feelings of superiority and condescension towards the unsophisticated and boorish Lunan rustics should be dissolved. They will be left to wonder if they could have survived the challenges clearly bested by the lunar frontier folk.
Visitors will learn clearly the relationship of various intermediate periods of lunar history, and of the arts, crafts, fashions, customs, and products they produced. They will learn of the first crude faltering lunar outpost and settlement biospheres, and come to appreciate what it takes to make them and the utility systems that work with them function to guarantee continued Lunan existence.
"When you've seen one Lunan town, you'll have seen them all!" Anyone who says something like this will say more about his or her own shallow lack of perception than about the Lunar frontier. The discrete and all but mutually quarantined lunar settlement biospheres will sport considerable diversity, as will the architectural solutions employed within, the local "middoor" climates, and local arts and crafts traditions. Sure there will be telltale common threads. But vive la difference! To boot, the lunar frontier environment will have fostered a great number of social and cultural experiments and a number of "intentional communities" will have been launched. Of these many way be still-born, many to falter sooner or later, some to survive only by going "mainstream," but some few making their dream a reality, if not quite in the shape and form envisioned by their inspired founders. All this will be material for the Luna City Museum curators.
Illustrated as well will be the life cycles of plants and animals successfully transplanted into and thriving in Lunan mini-biospheres, no two of these quite alike. But it won't be all about Luna and the Lunar Frontier Republic.
The Luna City Museum will want to gradually build up its collections that will paint an ever fuller picture of what the settlers have left behind. From nature there will be sweeping diorama vistas of terrestrial habitats: seashores and river valleys and deserts and mountains and waterfalls and forests and prairies and jungles and swamps and tundras; plant and animal collections in great diversity, each in ecosystem context. Given the cost of shipment from Earth of physical display materials, audiovisual virtual reality displays will probably predominate.
But Lunans will also learn of occupations and hobbies, and sports, and recreations common on Earth which have been difficult or impossible to translate with justice in the settings of their new adopted homeworld. They will catch an idea of what it is like to sail, to soar, to ski, to run under open skies, to picnic under pillow-shaped clouds playing tag with the Sun, of what it must be like to hunt and fish and gather in the wild. They will learn of the quite different suite of natural perils: volcanoes and earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes and forest fires and mud slides and blizzards and floods and tidal waves. For Lunans must be shown not only the roots of who they are, to appreciate more fully who they have become.
And they will learn of the somewhat similar and somewhat different challenges and achievements of other Earth-foresakers, those who have chosen Mars, or the asteroids or empty space for their world setting. They must learn of what they have left behind.
The Luna City Museum of 2097 is likely to have earned its billing as a pillar institution of Lunan settlement culture and civilization.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto