San Francisco. One official definition of a museum is "a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment". My favorite SF bar, the Interval, is also an important museum of the Long Now Foundation.
Is it possible for a history museum to extent time awareness backwards and forward at the same time? As a counterpoint to today's accelerating culture, the Long Now wants to make long-term thinking and responsibility more common, in the framework of the next 10,000 years. Time is an intangible heritage of humanity, and this museum is trying harder than most to be as permanent as possible. It's a history museum for the far distant future.
But first the bar. Meant to "inspire thought through conversation", the Interval is a serious cocktail bar, with salon talks and historical international concoctions. The bottles hanging overhead are a gesture of donor recognition, a personal reserve of custom spirits for each donor to enjoy over time.
The Long Now, created in 1996, is mostly known for the 10,000 year old clock, now being built at full scale inside a mountain in western Texas. When it's finished, visitors will be able to climb up the mountain and go inside to see the giant clock themselves. Under this table is an early version of the "chime generator." The clock's small scale prototype now lives at the London Science Museum.
The Long Now is a think tank of luminaries, a rich incubator of time-responsible thinking and preservation projects. I remember coming here for lectures before the bar existed. Now "The wall" is a non-linear collage that hints at what goes on here. This is the tip of the iceberg, from preserving languages and the genetics of endangered species, to "long bets" and long term thinking seminars.
The Wall "key" like all the museum labels is dense and small.
"What books would you want to restart civilization?" is the premise for the living library up above. It is crowd-curated, but I've never seen it open to the public.
The Rosetta Stone is a spiraling digital language archive. The museum takes a futuristic approach to preserving history, creating future artifacts and tools for future archeologists. These high tech projects have a old fashioned aesthetic.
Brian Eno's ambient Painting and Jurge Lenhi.'s robotic chalk drawing machine continually evolve in real time, a criteria for Long Now art.
The experience of being in the space is ideally the visitor's own "long now", a relaxed time to think about the continuity of our planet and civilization. Or to check phone messages.
“Now” is never just a moment. The Long Now is the recognition that the precise moment you’re in grows out of the past and is a seed for the future. - Brian Eno (Founding board member)