The Conspiracy Museum: A Speculative Address

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tags: conspiracy theories, futurism, Speculative fiction

REMARKS AS PREPARED BY WILLIAM K. SING, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN CONSPIRACY

FOR DELIVERY ON TUESDAY APRIL 16, 2041

Welcome, everyone. What an [insert weather comment] day to open a museum.

Behind me [gesture behind self] is the Smithsonian Museum of American Conspiracy. Yes, it’s really there! I know it’s hard to see. The building is clad in the same light-bending mesh the Space Force uses for its stealth ships. There was a surplus. Lucky us.

This is an art museum. That’s important. Not a history museum, and not, as the Post has suggested, the Smithsonian’s second zoo. [pause for ironic laughter] No, this new institution celebrates an art form. It’s a natural extension of the Smithsonian’s long-standing commitment to American folkways.

This might be the deepest, widest folkway of them all.

I’ll quote my colleague Helena Hwang, who calls conspiracy theories “the third great American art form, alongside jazz and superhero comics.” Maybe when Disney’s lobbyists finally allow those copyrights to expire, we can build a Smithsonian Museum of Superheroes next door. [pause for rueful laughter] Not likely.

This is a new kind of museum. Its collection extends into the exabytes, and it circulates continuously through our displays. The museum’s centerpiece, which you’ll see immediately upon entering, is the meme mosaic: a 21st-century quilt, two stories tall, constantly shifting. It is truly awful, in the original sense.

Inside, you will find a literal hall of mirrors. No visitor’s experience will be the same. You’ll learn about the tropes and techniques of an important art form, and you’ll encounter a kind of counter-history: a network of narratives that have established themselves in the tide-pool crevices between real events.

Read entire article at The Atlantic