Is Capitalism Doomed? A New Museum Imagines the Downfall of the Economic System

If capitalism is slowly on the outs, as some economists and theorists say it is, should there be a museum to preserve its artifacts? The Museum of Capitalism (MOC), an aspiring institution at the very earliest phase of development, opens its first exhibition this month in a disused warehouse in Oakland, California. Its ambitious goal is to educate future generations about the economic system’s “ideology, history, and legacy,” per its mission statement, in the vein of history museums and so-called museums of conscience.

Headed up by the artist duo FICTILIS (Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau) and supported by a $215,000 grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, its debut exhibition is to be housed in a temporary space in Oakland’s post-industrial Jack London Square, an area with multiple vacant warehouses. The artist list, totaling a whopping 83, includes members from around the globe.

“Fredric Jameson supposedly once said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” said Steves in a phone interview, “and making capitalism a ‘museum piece’ is partly an effort to help us do just that.” The artists do not purport to be experts on capitalism, and Furstnau said that even experts disagree on the fundamentals. “There are prominent historians, like Wolfgang Streeck, who argue that we are coming out of capitalism, and then McKenzie Wark, who argues that we are now in something worse.”