History of the future explored Ray guns, robots, and plans for a nuclear-powered car are all part of Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future, a new traveling exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The exhibit will be in the museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center from now through Dec. 29.
Yesterday's Tomorrows is part of the Museum on Main Street program, a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils with rural America. The partnership, established in 1991, was formed as a creative response to the challenge faced by rural museums to enhance their own cultural legacies. In addition to touring South Dakota through December 2002, the exhibition will simultaneously tour similar rural cultural institutions in Alabama, Illinois, Kansas and Oregon.
Yesterday's Tomorrows uses popular culture objects such as toys, books, movie stills, World's Fair memorabilia, car designs, advertisements and models of architectural designs to examine ways in which Americans of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries have envisioned the future.
From the buoyant and optimistic tomorrows of General Motors' "Futurama" at the 1939 World's Fair to the bleak future presented in the film "Planet of the Apes" (1968), this exhibition explores a range of visions from the past. Five freestanding kiosks show futuristic predictions about homes, transportation and communities.
South Dakota's own "Man of the Future" � Captain 11 � entertained generations of kids on his long-running TV show. The
Captain 11 set, complete with time converter with its colored jewels, treasure chest, and the Captain's uniform, will be on exhibit in the museum gallery during the run of Yesterday's Tomorrows.
The winner of a statewide essay contest sponsored by South Dakota Department of Tourism will be announced at the Cultural Heritage Center on Dec. 16. Writing about an invention that would improve life in South Dakota, the contest winner will receive a $1,000 prize. For additional information about the essay contest visit www.travelsd. com or call (605) 773-3301.
Yesterday's Tomorrows has been generously supported by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Hearst Foundation. The exhibition's South Dakota tour is sponsored by the South Dakota State Historical Society and its State Historic Preservation Office, the South Dakota Humanities Council, South Dakota State University Extension Youth Development/4-H, and South Dakota Department of Tourism. The exhibition is adapted from a larger one originally produced in cooperation with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
Cultural Heritage Center museum hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. on weekends and most legal holidays. The State Historical Society is a program of the state Department of Education and Cultural Affairs. For more information call (605) 773-3458 or visit the society's Web site at www.sdhistory.org.