In this age of geek wonders such as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, an impending new Star Wars trilogy, and one of the most high-profile shows on TV focusing on a zombie apocalypse, it’s easy to forget that such things haven’t always gotten the most respect. Only the most snobbish of the snobby can turn their noses up at The Avengers’ $1.52 billion-with-a-b, but for much of its existence science fiction has been dismissed by many as disposable kid’s stuff. We all knew the truth long before the rest of the world caught on: at its best science fiction is about hope, about wonder, about aspiration. It’s a way to warn us of dangerous paths ahead, and to comment on who we are by imagining who we might become. And, to borrow a phrase from a well-known archaeologist/grave robber, “it belongs in a museum!”
Thankfully, you can help somebody stick it there. In a museum, I mean. Namely, you can help crowdfund the plan to build an official Museum of Science Fiction in Washington D.C. The first step of the process is an Indiegogo campaign to raise $160,000 to construct a “preview museum,” a sort of Reader’s Digest Condensed version of the eventual full-size facility. The goal is to open the preview museum as early as 2014, and for it to: “become a center for science fiction fans and enthusiasts, in the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities. In the space, we will hold our first public lectures, education programs, film screenings, book signings, and special events.” It will also allow the museum to try out different types of exhibits and experiments to better plan the eventual full-size version.
You can’t have a museum without nifty historical trinkets, so the preview museum will feature artifacts from the history of the genre as well, spanning across film, TV, literature, and more. Already-pledged items include tons of Star Trek props, including a TARDIS and an 11-foot Enterprise-E filming model. Below you can see the floor plan for the 3,000 square-foot preview museum. I do love the idea of using LED screens to create a “window view” on Star Wars’ Coruscant (or wherever else you care to plug in).
The museum is the brainchild of Dr. Greg Viggiano, and the board for the project already includes author Greg Bear and sci-fi memorabilia collector Adam Schneider. VP Mandy Sweeney even works at NASA, and you can’t get much better geek credentials than that. And, just like the genre is celebrates, the museum wants to help educate and inspire the generations to come.
Education is central to our mission. We believe that the science fiction presents an ideal device for sparking interest and spurring proficiency in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). But we’d like to go beyond STEM and broaden our focus to include the arts. We call it STEAM. We want to give teachers new tools. Cool tools that kids will love to use. Combined with inspiration and imagination, and creativity fueled by science fiction, our prospects look bright.
So, what can you do to help? Well, the obvious option is donating to the indiegogo campaign. And as with any crowdfunding setup, you’ll get assorted goodies in return for donating at various levels. Fifteen bucks will get you a copy of the original Museum of Science Fiction 2013 Planning Document and a subscription to the quarterly newsletter. Twenty-five will get you all that plus your name on that snazzy LED wall display. At $100 you’ll get a bunch of neat stuff, including electronic access to every book in the catalog of Singularity & Co., a group that “rescues” out-of-print vintage science fiction books and makes them available to readers again. (We profiled them back in 2012.) If you really want to open your wallet wide you could get the chance to meet Greg Bear or even a slot on the museum’s official advisory committee.
There are 36 days left in the indiegogo campaign, but they’ve still got a long way to go — their goal is $160,000. If you’re cash strapped, don’t worry, there are other ways you can contribute. You can volunteer to help, and if you’ve got a storage unit full of sci-fi arcana, you can contact them about donating artifacts.