Great Read: The Museum of Obsolete Technology

by Sally J.

in * How to PRESERVE Family History Treasures, Free Articles / Blog

Alexander Stille
is one of my favorite writers. Here is a link to the first essay of his that I ever read. I discovered it while I was in grad school over a decade ago, and I never forgot it. It’s free to read, and I hope you enjoy it.

Free Online Essay:
Are We Losing Our Memory?
Or The Museum of Obsolete Technology

This essay comes from a collection called The Future of the Past. I devoured the entire book earlier this year and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a fascinating look at the big picture of historic preservation. If you like the free essay in the link above, you’ll probably enjoy the entire book:

Discussion Topic: Do Replicas Count?

This was one of the most interesting points of Stille’s book…

In China, it’s considered preservation to rebuild crumbling treasures. Since the new parts are in the same style, they make no distinction between the original and the copy. Stille talks about how this cultural difference has caused problems when treasures go on exhibit to western museums. Westerners don’t want a copy, they want what they consider to be the only authentic copy…the original.

What do YOU think?

  • Would you feel cheated if you went to a museum that only had replicas?
  • Would it make a difference to you if the reproductions were created using the same tools as the original?
  • Does it bother you if your historic family photograph is a modern print from a recent scan and not the original antique?
  • What is lost when you create a copy?
  • What is gained when you create a copy?

Sound off in the comments section, below.

Oh, and feel free to leave your comments about Stille’s Museum of Obsolete Technology essay if you like. I’d love to hear what you thing about it.


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