Monday, August 12, 2013

The Lunarpolitan Museum of Modern Art

by magdissimo, This post originally appeared at Future Science Leaders blog.

Everything looks better in a museum.  You could take a paper bag, light it on fire, bury it in dirt and then smooth it out again, but as long as it’s under a glass case and tasteful lighting, that paper bag will have an air of sophistication, an air of je-ne-sais-quoi, be the envy of paper bags everywhere.
Of course, in museums housing dinosaur bones, mummy wrappings, delicate clay jars and silver daggers from civilizations gone by, museums ensure the added bonus of your treasure not crumbling away or tarnishing from exposure to air, or in the case of some relics, crushing themselves under their own weight.  But maintenance is hard, requiring vacuum seals, nitrogen baths and protection from certain wavelengths of light.  Paper deteriorates naturally, as does DNA in preserved organisms.
Of course, there are also the dangers that are beyond the calculated abilities of science in the form of break-ins, natural disasters and human conflict.  Thousands of paintings, books and art works were burnt during the Second World War; thousands more were burnt during the Spanish occupation of South America.
Oxidation… high atmospheric pressure… natural disasters… human nature… Now bear with me, readers: I propose we set up a museum… on the moon.
 Bear with me: With no atmosphere to worry about, there is no concern for oxidation or chemical preservation.  With lower gravity, objects are less inclined to collapse on themselves.  Theft and unfavourable weather are of course out of the question, so all we’d need would be a stable structure capable of blocking the much stronger UV rays present on the moon and capable of withstanding small space debris that has a habit of knocking into it on occasion.
Expensive? Perhaps.  Excessive? Debateable.  But as I found while Googling “moon museum”, not entirely original, either.
In 1969, Apollo 12 set down on the moon, the second craft to do so.  While it housed dozens of experiments, three astronauts, one colour tv camera and one mini moon museum, comprising of a ceramic 1.9cm x 1.3 cm plaque with the sketches of six modern artists.  These were John Chamberlain, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and the dreamer of the idea himself, Forrest Myers.  It had to be smuggled onto the leg of the space craft, but when the astronauts left, the tiny plaque stayed happily behind.
While I couldn’t find any confirmation from astronauts that the plaque still exists, it is pretty neat to think that there is a little slice of art on our beloved pet rock.

About this Contributor: M is a high school student in BC, Canada. She can usually be found playing the accordion or working on one of her many building projects and hopes to one day become an inventor.

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