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Museum of the Future

Kate Balug | Master in Urban Planning 

Laura Janka | Master in Architecture and Urban Design


By sparking the notion of time travel to the year 2068, Museo del Futuro (MDF) developed a framework for engaging with public imagination. Its goal was to propose possible futures of Mexico City, highlighting the visions of often-excluded populations who live on the city’s periphery. Further, the project explored a new institutional typology that fosters such collective, constructive visioning among the city’s residents: a mobile, decentralized museum that generates artifacts in collaboration with the public.

MDF began with street performances by amnesiac time-traveling curators, including Kate Balug (MUP ’11) and Laura Janka (MAUD ’11). En route from 2068 to 1968 to prepare an exhibition on the centennial anniversary of this doubly historic year, the curators’ time machine crash landed in 2012, and they lost all memory of their time. They traveled throughout Mexico City’s neighborhoods, asking residents for help ‘remembering’ 2068. Unlike participatory efforts that position residents in the hindering state of fixing or improving the present context when deliberating the future, this narrative-based approach cut away from the present, leaving room for vision and imagination.

In the second part of the project with partner youth centers in Tláhuac and Iztapalapa, over 100 youth collaborated on the construction of a time machine for the curators’ return journey. The machine, which doubled as a mobile museum in the present, was comprised of 14 steel “cells.” Many of the youth took part in workshops organized by local teachers during the summer of 2012, in which they explored media such as recycled art, storytelling, dance, or sculpture to fill the cells with their interpretations of a past, present, and future Mexico City. Once finished, the time machine cells visited both youth centers, prompting discussion and demonstration of ideas toward 2068 in community events organized by the centers. The time machine served as a vehicle for to lead conversations that addressed the City’s future while examining its past.

The project partners were FARO Tláhuac, artist Daniel Hernández, Programa de Jovenes de Iztapalapa ¡Préndete con tus derechos!, Jorge Navarro, architect Iván Hernández, and over 100 youth who worked on the cells.

Advisors on the project were Prof. Diane Davis, professor of urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Dr. Héctor Castillo Berthier, professor of sociology of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and founder of Circo

The project was conceived by Katarzyna Balug for her yearlong Sinclair Kennedy travel fellowship from Harvard University. It was developed and carried out in collaboration with Laura Janka and with help from Jess Garz (MIT DUSP ’12).