As the state that drew millions west with the hopes of striking it rich during the Gold Rush, it seems fitting that California is host to the new Museum of Capitalism.
Dedicated to “educating future generations about the ideology, history, and legacy of capitalism,” the museum was made possible after several years of planning and fundraising by a group of curators, artists, writers, educators and museum professionals, with input from historians and economists.
More than 80 artists, both international and American, contributed works that explore the rise of capitalism and its social impact on everything from race to the environment to class divisions in the U.S.
Whether it’s a penny press commenting on minimum wage, shocking illustrations of just how much more CEOs make than their employees, a somber display of police lights arranged as an American flag as commentary on our increasingly militarized police state, the museum argues that capitalism might actually be the root of all modern evil.
For visitors, the museum aims to be a wake-up call that Americans’ lives are run by money far outside the realm of the jobs we hold or the stores we shop at. Its message is that capitalism is wasteful of our time (social media), environmental resources (making everything cheap and disposable, which is more profitable than getting items repaired), and even us (automation displacing workers, the corrupt private prison system).
The museum will continue to seek out new artifacts to expand. Right now it’s only going to be around through Aug. 20, but partner venues are being solicited to take the exhibits on the road in some form across the country.
While entry to the Museum of Capitalism is free, don’t miss the gift shop where you can buy items like the board game Anti-Monopoly which claims to level the playing field for would-be real estate moguls.
We’re still beholden to capitalism, after all.