History Of The Future At The PPL
A new exhibit “Portals: The History of the Future” is on display now at the Providence Public Library downtown.
The dream of time travel has fascinated humans for centuries. Facing the future, it engenders both hope and fear about our imagined outcomes; facing the past, it provokes curiosity (and sometimes scorn) toward people who lived and thought in ways that now seem alien. The notion of time itself, which seems so natural and linear, was challenged a century ago by the publication of Einstein’s theories of relativity. Meanwhile the technological optimism of the early 20th century, culminating in the 1939 World’s Fair, was pushing Americans to dream of the “World of Tomorrow” even as they were climbing out of the Great Depression.
Visitors to the exhibition can view popular scientific magazines from the 1800s, a first edition of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity (on loan from Brown University’s John Hay Library), a magicians’ supply catalog, a 1936 pulp science fiction magazine containing a story by H.P. Lovecraft, and plans for Utopian communities, among many other historical items.
Walker Mettling is the exhibition’s Creative Fellow. A local artist and member of the Providence Comics Consortium, Walker will use inspiration from PPL’s Special Collections materials to produce comics and illustrations related to the exhibition theme of futurism, as well as to curate an exhibit-related project involving other local artists and designers.
‘Portals’ runs through June 28, the Rhode Island Room, 1st floor, PPL, 150 Empire Street