Episode 04: Museum of Capitalism (Timothy Furstnau and Andrea Steves)

 Museum of Capitalism exhibition in Oakland. (Image courtesy of FICTILIS).

Museum of Capitalism exhibition in Oakland. (Image courtesy of FICTILIS).

The Museum of Capitalism was co-founded by Timothy Furstanau and Andrea Steves of FICTILIS, a curatorial collective who the New Yorker described as constructing “exhibitions and interventions animated by a playful interrogation of social institutions.” In 2015, Furstanau and Steves began opening up calls to architects, artists, and the broader public to dream up a museum for capitalism. The responses provoked speculation on how to tell the history of capitalism through artifacts and experiences that, in turn, mirrored retail, real estate, and industrial environments. FICTILIS opened the first iteration of their Museum in a decade-old retail space that had never been occupied in Oakland’s Jack London district, garnering thousands of visitors and international attention. Currently, the Museum is now open at the School of the Museum of Fine Art at Tufts University in the Boston area through October 25, 2018. FICTILIS also currently teaches a course on monuments at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. FICTILIS will bring the Museum of Capitalism to New York City at the New School in 2019.


Paul Farber, Host: Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau of FICTILIS. Welcome to Monument Lab.

Andrea Steves: Thanks.

Timothy Furstnau: Hi. Thanks for having us.

Farber: Your Museum of Capitalism models the idea of a place in the future to study and assess the impact of capitalism. Can you walk us through the front door?

Furstnau: So, you walk in, the door shuts behind you. You look around. You're in a Museum of Capitalism, and I’m just going to let that sit. Because one thing we have learned through the project is that, that moment, when you have to imagine what would be in a Museum of Capitalism for yourself, and not be told by the curators of the institution, or some fancy academics what should be in a Museum of Capitalism. But you have to go through your own personal history and experience of capitalism and think about what those artifacts might be. The space might be organized.  What you think of as capitalism might be historicized and laid out in an exhibition. For us as the curators, that's the productive moment, and we want to share that moment with other people before we too quickly give them our answer.

Farber: As you began thinking through the formation of this museum, did you see roots of it elsewhere? Are there other exhibits or places where this history was made evident?

Steves: I mean, we've probably visited hundreds of museums over the last five, six years, as we were doing research. Of course, it was modeled a lot after thinking about museums of conscience, and the way that other museums like holocaust museums and memorials, museums of communism, kind of represent subjects, but I think we also just spent a lot of time in other museums that have elements of maybe what a future Museum of Capitalism might be. Even the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street is perhaps like another type of Museum of Capitalism. It's extremely celebratory, but there's elements of that, like the stock ticker timeline that stops at 2008 and hasn't been updated since then, that could totally be in the Museum of Capitalism.

Furstnau: Yeah. When Andrea visited, I think, early last year, there was a really fascinating exhibit on deal toys, which are these small monuments created to celebrate financial deals essentially, right? You know, that are collected by the people who are arrived in the deal to put on your desk or your shelf. And, they are an artifact of a certain period when there were big budgets and at some of these banks and financial institutions to create such things. After the crisis of 2008, they kind of cut back on some of those frills. So, they all ready are a kind of artifact of a certain period of capitalism.  We actually commissioned a deal toy for our exhibition in Oakland last year by the artist Jasper Waters that commemorated a deal that we thought hadn't been sufficiently recognized as a financial deal of capitalism, the bailout of the banks by the US Treasury. So, it as this marble lucite little monument with a stock ticker and all the usual elements of a classic deal toy.

Farber: Are there public monuments to capitalism?

Furstnau: There's one that is highly public and has thousands of franchises all over the country. Ray Kroc, who is credited with building the food chain McDonald's into the sort of empire that it became by the sort of late '80s. He described McDonald's as his "personal monument to capitalism" in his autobiography.

Farber: You've spoken to the role of the imagination of the viewer. Going back to one of your first public actions, the call for designers in 2015 and thinking about calls for artifact donations. What has surprised you in collaborating with public participants in the founding of the Museum of Capitalism?

Steves:  I'll give a little bit of background. So, in 2015, we decided to host an architecture competition, and we asked the question, "What should a Museum of Capitalism look like?" The point was, like Tim was talking about earlier, to try to extend the kind of conceptual phase of the project to as many people as possible. It was really surprising. It circulated quite widely.   It was posted on ArchDaily, which is sort of a clearing house for architecture competitions. It was actually right next to a competition for a shopping mall design and an international auto convention. We got tons of entries from all over the world. Many were very funny. Many were very dark. Lots of representations of pyramids. Many were very, very serious. I think from the very beginning with the project, I personally always wanted to make a physical thing. Like, I wanted to make a space in which people could be in, in their bodies, and walk around in. I kind of felt like it wouldn't be real until we could do that. I don't know. It felt like it was very, very important to me that we make a large, physical museum that felt like a museum. That was big enough that also people could get exhausted walking around in [Laughs].  I think just seeing the responses to the architecture competition, a lot of them engaged with capitalism in various ways, but I think one of the things that surprised us is that that was the first time we really started to think about the need for better conceptualization of capitalism. Because a lot of the proposals were, you know, they were funny, or they referenced Monopoly or they looked kind of big and museum-like, but there wasn't a lot of substance and we felt like a lot of that, and our judges also sort of had the same response, that a lot of it stemmed from maybe a really surface level understanding of like what capitalism even is. So, I think that, from the very beginning, was a surprise and something that kind of carried through to the artifact donation events where people would give us a lot of money, right? Like a lot of dollars and coins or credit cards without necessarily thinking about the complexities of capitalism and its intersections with some of the larger issues that we wanted to talk about in the museum or thinking about labor or class or kind of the economy as a structure.

Farber: From these public calls, what did you get a sense that your respondents knew about capitalism or believed about capitalism, especially in the framework of a museum?

Steves: I think a lot of people have a sense that capitalism is bad, but they can't articulate it or it's kind of like moth to a flame. Like, people say, "Oh, yeah, I don't like capitalism, but I buy a lot of stuff. Is that okay?" Like, I feel like we got a lot of responses that were kind of like that. Both to the museum, but also to the public calls. I think that they're sort of an underlying sense that maybe capitalism isn't working or capitalism is linked to violence or oppression, but in a lot of cases, people were not quite at the point where they wanted to articulate that, but almost like, we're curious about talking about capitalism. I think that that's like something that was really, really important for us to understand and to think about from the beginning is that in order to do this project, like we're going to have to be willing to find ways to  go into what this thing actually is before we can then think beyond it.

Furstnau: I think one thing that we noticed was, as Andrea said, this problem in people's conceptualism of capitalism and not only it's equating it with specific things, small things like money or free markets, but also a tendency to sort of equate it with everything in the world. So like everything is capitalism. Along with that comes a certain tendency to attribute sort of everything a person has done in their life to capitalism. There's a sort of personal investment in it where capitalism is such a bogey man word and has been associated with critics of the thing since its beginnings really in the mid-19th century of the beginnings of the word "capitalism."  There's a sense that if you are bringing up the word, you're automatically critical and you're automatically criticizing me and all of the, as a person, and all, sort of, work I've done in my life and people have this reflexive defensiveness. That's something that, a kind of block that we have to work around a lot as curators and as educators. But the museum and museums in general, part of what they're good at, is creating a space to work through some of those feelings in a kind of safe place where there's space to take in kind of difficult things and sit down and think about them and have an experience with other people doing the same thing.

Farber: What was it like securing the first location for the museum in Oakland?

Furstnau: It was really important for us to have the first installation of the museum be in a very public and accessible location so that it could be a truly public institution and be accessible to a lot of different types of people and feel kind of welcoming. We knew it had to be free, so it also had to be reachable by public transit and all these kinds of things. We wanted it to be capable of responding to the context of where it was, the sort of exit from the museum being the entrance to the real Museum of Capitalism and the rest of the museum. Having that sort of interplay between interior and exterior was something we wanted to work with as curators, too, and exhibit designers. So, we're from Oakland. We sort of had started searching a long time ago and we ended up finding a space in a neighborhood that had undergone a sort of period of gentrification that already seemed historical.  So, Oakland's Jack London's neighborhood had this sort of attempt to rival San Francisco's Embarcadero waterfront in the like early 2000s. And, there was a lot of building and development that happened, and it never quite succeeded. So, there was hundreds of thousands of square feet of empty commercial and office space. The neighborhood had also formally been the headquarters of the Oakland Port before the Port moved west to deeper waters after containerization, which is this sort of technology that enabled what people refer to as the globalization important period of capitalism.  So having all this history of these things that sort of relate to capitalism, whether it's urban real estate speculation or global supply chain logistics. So, that was a perfect location for us to install a museum. 

Steves: The building itself had sat vacant for about 10 years or so, like since it was built. It had never been anything. It was sort of imagined as this like market concept, so the museum was actually up on the second floor, on this sort of mezzanine level. Then, the bottom floor had been imagined as this Farmer's Market open concept. There was a red armature where you'd hang canvas to separate a bunch of Farmer's Market booths during market days, which actually never really happened. So, the outside of the downstairs had this wrap on it that was called the Jack London Marketplace. I think it had been installed right around when they built it in 2008, because they were waiting for a tenant to come in.  So, it was almost like this mirage. There were pictures of families and like vegetables. A lot of people didn't realize that it actually wasn't a market. Like, they thought that that's what was in there and didn't really realize that it had sat vacant for such a long time. There were also some start-ups that had offices above the building where we were that had gone bankrupt really recently and actually a couple of times, visitors to the Museum of Capitalism actually went to the wrong floor on accident and ended up in these former office cubicle wastelands, which I think was a really wonderful outcome. But, we worked with the neighborhood improvement district. It's basically the business district that does special assessments in the neighborhood. They do a lot of things like run a public art program and handle landscaping and pick up trash and all kinds of stuff. We worked with this really amazing woman, Savlan Hauser, who had a ton of patience. I think it's pretty rare situation where an artist comes to you and says, “Hey, I want to make a Museum of Capitalism in your neighborhood. Can you get me a space that's 10,000 square feet?” I know a lot of people would say no, or just never respond because I contacted almost every district in the city of Oakland and San Francisco, Richmond, Fremont. We spent a couple years before we even had funding, looking for space to mount the museum and sort of watching and monitoring what was happening and all of these big vacant storefronts. One of the spaces that we thought we could get for a while was converted into a Starbucks. Another one became a 15,000 square foot eSports arena where people could go and watch other people play video games.  Then the space that we were in was really perfect. It was right on the waterfront. You could see the port from the whole second floor and it had this kind of grand entrance where you'd have to walk up the stairs along the waterfront to get into the museum. So it had sort of this I don't know really special ascent to get up and into the museum. When we got into this space, it had never really been finished because they had never had a tenant and so there was no electricity, most of the walls were really unfinished, nobody had really been in there for years. I think that that kind of gave it even more of a perfect feel, because you could totally tell that this space is a product of some development that didn't work out as it was planned. To be able to have the museum in the space that kind of had that feeling, I think also really helped.

Furstnau: Yeah, and the window wrapping that Andrea mentioned for the proposed food market was such a convenient reminder that our institution is not the only speculation that's happening. I mean, that had been up for 10 years and sort of photos of happy smiling people eating glistening food.

Farber: After the museum opened in Oakland, word of it traveled around the world and you had coverage and in major news media outlets, but there was also a sense of using the space and being there for both and joining the critique, but also participation and play. How did you take in those moments when the museum was opened? Were you kind of in the mix with people as they were utilizing and kind of coming to their own conclusions about the project?

Steves: Yeah, we were there every day. We were there probably maybe about a month and a half before it opened. We did most of the build out. I mean, we supervised and participated in most of the build out, installation, receiving artwork. Then, when the museum opened we had a couple of other collaborators that were also sort of staff members of the Museum of Capitalism. Museum had a few volunteers that were always there, volunteer docents as well, but Timothy and I were there every day.  We kept it really open. We invited groups and artists to propose workshops, or classes, or meetings to use the space and ended up having probably three or four events every week. I think one of the things that was really hard for us when it came time to close the museum at the end of our lease is that we just realized that there is really a need for this type of space in Oakland for people to come together to talk about ideas and particularly to talk about politics, at a time when there is a lot of questioning and confusion, there's a lot of interest in socialism, there are a lot of groups that are sort of trying to grapple with operating in Oakland. There's just really not a lot of space that people can come to that is free and open, but also I think big enough to hold the types of events or meetings that we had.

Furstnau: In our case we had I think extremely special and close access to the visitors to the museum. As Andrea mentioned, not only were we on site every day, but we were actually working on the floor of the exhibition.  In my case I was usually stationed at the front door where people would get their tickets and sort of usually ask where the correct place to start is, or what the correct route to the museum is. That was an interaction I had with like thousands of people over the course of a few months.  I was able to witness their shock or the different just expressions on their faces as they sort of gingerly walked over to the first exhibit and started reading the label which in many cases I had some part in writing, just awkward thing to watch someone read the thing you wrote but so really close access to that encounter. In Andrea's case she was often staffing the museum gift shop, which ended up being this kind of place of refuge in a museum, and many sort of similar museums of conscience and historical tragedy museums or whatever you want to call them, actually, design and spaces where people can sort of relax and escape through kind of assault on their senses and feelings.  In our case, gift shop was that place where there was a familiar set of rules and ways of inhabiting the space that people found, I think, very comforting. They would often go to the person working behind the counter and unload like their feelings about this experience that we're having. Little did they know that person was the curator of the exhibition. So, it was this very kind of anecdotal, but direct, visceral feedback on the project that we got day in and day out.

Farber: You've worked as curators and artists and as you're saying, as docents and serving people at the gift shop. What jobs have you worked in the past that either have informed this project or even come to mind in terms of the ways the Museum of Capitalism, as you suggested, kind of lives beyond the walls of your project?

Steves: My first job in high school as I worked at Baskin-Robbins and, I actually haven't really thought about it until you just asked this question, but I feel like there's definitely something   sitting behind the retail counter that is very familiar. Perhaps that's why people felt so uncomfortable unloading all of their critiques in the gift shop because you kind of have a retail voice. You have to greet them, ask them if they need any help, if they have any questions. That's usually what I would do and maybe part of the reason why these conversations would open up. Thinking about it, when I was at Baskin-Robbins, a lot of people would actually come in and unload their anxieties while ordering ice cream, like tell me that they were on a diet. They were cheating [Laughs].I also worked in a call center and did sort of technical support for a while. I feel like there were definitely there was a lot of media in the museum. We were really sensitive to it, so many artists kind of came back to us and said, "I want to try, I want to make this video, I want to make this kind of immersive experience." I don't know by museum, designs, standards, we probably had more media, like 40 hours of media or something, which was actually great. People would come and come back and watch things over and over again. I feel there were a lot of moments of technical troubleshooting in the museum where that would be our interaction with people, like helping them use something, or people calling you over to fix something.

Farber:  Do you think that visitors thought of that as part of the experience?

Steves: I don't think so. I think it just seamlessly became part of the operations of the museum. I mean that's I think one of the things that made it really real.  I remember one day where the Center for Tactical Magic Aaron Gach did this piece called Universal Handcuff Keys. It was sort of an installation on the wall with all of these singular pins and a pattern. Each pin had a universal handcuff key hanging from it and the idea was that people could take a key with them. It was sort of in a section where we had a lot of pieces that explored the intersection of capitalism and incarceration and police.  I was restocking the keys and I would always have to put cones out because people would ... it was a very delicate task, you have to hang them like on the very end of each pin and if you drop one, it would knock 10 off. So you'd have to like put cones out and then get up on a step ladder. I remember this guy walked by and came up to me and said, "Is that what you do all day? That seems so difficult." He was really shocked that that was the labor that I was putting in at the Museum of Capitalism. Of course, I didn't have the heart to tell them that I'm the curator and this is my project and yes, this is what I do all day [Laughs]. I think there were other moments like that where people don't necessarily see the labor and the maintenance as maybe being anything special even in the Museum of Capitalism. It just sort of blends in with the rest of everything.

Furstnau: There was one piece of work by the artist Blake Fall-Conroy that was called Minimum Wage Machine. This is a machine that has, the top is filled with a bunch of pennies. It's like a wood pedestal. There's a crank on the side of it that when you crank it basically emits pennies at the rate of Oakland minimum wage. The machine actually got stuck once or twice, and when it did get stuck and was not emitting pennies when cranked, some visitors did think that was part of the exhibit. They thought, oh, like it's about the promise of pay is not being delivered. It sort of worked anyway, even when it was broken, but it was working most of the time [Laughs].

Steves: One of my first jobs when I got out of college was working for an automotive company. I had to do training, actually at the NUMMI plant in Fremont on the assembly line. I was working as an engineer but we all had to do training on the assembly line. I was on the assembly line for about six weeks popping navigation units into Camrys. This artist, Jesse Sugarmann had a piece in the show [in the Museum] where workers from GM would reenact the former movements from their time on the assembly line. It was filmed in this kind of blank former Pontiac dealership parking lot called Pontiac, Pontiac, which was a division of GM. I think for me the piece really is about the sort of somatic experience of labor, being a part of capitalism and in working on the assembly line which is similar to working in a fulfillment center. Doing anything that requires you to sort of move objects from one place to the next and you really have the physical experience of being required to be efficient. That piece always made me think about it, but then it kind of operated on this other level, because when we were installing the museum, we only had about a month to get it together. So it really became about the efficiency of moving material into the Museum of Capitalism and putting the trim piece on correctly the first time so you don't have to go back and redo it.  The experience for me of working on the assembly line is something where I sort of have that efficiency built into my movement as a body of capitalism, and maybe something that I always carry around with me.

Farber: On your website you write, "Much of the evidence of capitalism is either eroding over time or simply not known or easily accessible to the public. Our ambition is to connect and integrate these many efforts before the evidence is erased forever." Is this the kind of force of either inspiration or anxiety that you're working from?

Furstnau: Yeah. I think the thing about capitalism is it's so close that we can't recognize it. We sometimes mentioned that joke about the fish in the water in that one fish says, "Hi there. How's the water?" The other fish says, "What water?" Because they're swimming in it and they have no distance. I think what distinguishes our project from a lot of similar museums is despite the language and the mission statement which you're reading from, which I'll get to that in a second. We're kind of faced with this abundance of evidence and material instead of, most museums deal with issues of scarcity and rarity. It's a totally different set of challenges. But the language from our mission statement is actually pulled from the mission statements of several existing museums of conscience, mostly the planned Museum of Communism in Washington, DC. We did a simple exercise of searching and replacing the word "communism" with the word capital "capitalism." I think there's a little bit throw-in there from the Museum of Apartheid in Johannesburg. This was a sort of early exercise we did when the project was in its more conceptual phase. We were studying these museums closely at some point, realize that the language of their missions could be basically borrowed, wholesale. and it's been an interesting part of the public face of the museum. Its mission statement is right there in front of the website and a lot of people have sort of lingered on certain phrases like "victims of capitalism." Like, "What do you mean by that?" And sent us hostile emails about certain wordings, not knowing that the language comes straight from these existing mission statements.

Farber: Do you find that people are stuck on that pitting of capitalism and communism, or are there other people who see more possibilities than that in engaging in your work?

Furstnau: Yeah, I think people are really stuck. There are a lot of people in the United States, who any kind of attempt at policy reform is automatically "creeping socialism," as they used to say in the 60s. It’s one of many ways in which I think a lot of people are stuck in very binary, black and white, left [and] right, ways of thinking in this country, especially now. I don’t know. I hope that we can create some more grey perhaps.

Steves: I was also going to say, I feel like the quote that you read, the sort of focus on preserving evidence before it’s erased forever. It’s something that we find really compelling of the idea of a museum of conscience. In general, these museums are seeking to show a history, in many cases show a history that was perhaps violent or undesirable, or something that you would look back at and say, “How did that ever happen? That was the most terrible thing. Let’s never do that again.” That’s kind of the point of using the museum of capitalism, using the historical framing but also the importance of documenting how things went wrong, which are not necessarily things that people want to talk about. We were just at this archive at the University of Michigan [Labadie Collection] for the last month doing a research fellowship. I think one of the most inspiring things for us is being able to look back at historical political movements and resistance movements and seeing again and again and again all of these different ways in which people have resisted oppression. I think one of the things about this evidence is that a lot of times the evidence of resistance, or the evidence of battles that are not won, doesn’t necessarily get saved. I feel like that has been a really important aspect of the project is showing that history and particularly in a place where the main museums that are getting made are sponsored by corporations. They’re not necessarily museums of the people.

Furstnau: Yeah, the other thing about that quote is if you think about it, the Museum of Capitalism, we hope that it’s a hopeful gesture in the sense that we are assuming that there will be a society that looks back on capitalism and is able to erect this type of monument and make a museum in a space where we can reflect back on what this thing was. In that sense, the closeness to capitalism now, it’s a unique challenge and a problem for us, but it’s also an amazing opportunity that similar museums don’t have. We can talk to people right now about their lived experience of capitalism and to follow one of the associations with the term "evidence,"  the crime is unfolding, or some of the crimes, before us. What an amazing opportunity to use the form of a museum to look closely at what’s happening now, do those oral histories, which we actually do. In the museum there was a people’s history of capitalism booth where people could talk about their experiences. It’s a unique relation to our subject that the Museum of Capitalism has.

Farber: The Museum of Capitalism is now open at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. You’re working with the curator, Abigail Satinsky. I’m curious what the shift is for you from vacant store to gallery in showing the museum.

Furstnau: Yeah. Well, the other thing that was important to us about having the first public exhibition of the museum in an unmarked space that wasn’t marked by any specific. It hadn’t been anything yet, but it also hadn’t been an arts usage. Just empty commercial space basically. For us it was important not to be framed by the associations of an existing institution and it could really appear in its first public form in its own institutional framing. Once we had done that, I think we were less precious about that continuing to happen. We presented the museum as a public institution and now it’s more interesting in a way for us to explore the idea of being a public institution but existing within and across and between existing institutions

Steves: I think the hope is that when the Museum of Capitalism moves to different cities, which we hope that it will continue to do, it becomes a platform for thinking about local issues. In Boston we have several new commissions that are focused on housing. We’re doing a panel with a bunch of organizations that are thinking about the intersection of capitalism and housing. We’re also really interested in the potential that the museum has as a teaching tool. We’ve done several workshops with students as the museum. We have been organizing a panel in Boston called Teaching Capitalism in the 21st Century that will feature a bunch of speakers from various departments. Sort of thinking about what it is to teach capitalism and maybe why it doesn’t get taught as much in the United States, why it’s hard to teach capitalism. I think that’s the hope is that as the institution moves to different places or different types of spaces that it can pick up and respond to local issues or challenges, or situations.

Furstnau: Another thing that was important to us was that the first iteration of the museum have a museum scale. You might call it a monumentality that helped it achieve that museum quality. The size, the finished space, was actually 13,000 square feet, almost entirely dedicated to exhibition space. We didn’t have a lot of storage there.

Steves: People would come to the gift shop and unload. People were often pretty overwhelmed. Sometimes you would get someone who just came in off the street and was really confused. I remember this one particular person who had read about it on Lonely Planet. We ended up getting some reviews on Lonely Planet, and then we had these Yelp reviews that talked about how it was a good place to go on dates. There actually were a lot of people that were there in a coupled form. It was kind of surprising. The Yelp review said something about like canoodling at the Museum of Capitalism.

Farber: Do you think it was a romantic place?

Steves: Maybe. I mean I don’t know. It definitely was a date zone. I just remember this one guy who came in and he was so frustrated. He just wanted to have a tantrum in the gift shop. The first thing he did was he walked up to the counter and he opened our book and he flipped through and he was like, “I just don’t even understand what’s going on here. What is this? What is this? What is this?” He was pointing at every page, page after page, and not really even reading the content. Then he was rifling through the merchandise on the shelves and just saying, “What is this?” He was well-dressed. It seemed like maybe he had come after work. I was actually in there with one of our collaborators, BeBe, who worked with us almost the entire summer as well. She and I just looked at each other and just listened to him. We just let him go. Then eventually he just calmed down and walked out. We watched him continue to wander through the museum for like an hour. That was just a really, I don’t know, it was really weird. It was a really weird experience. It was like he really had all this anger and he had to come into the retail section of the museum to unload it. It just made me think about all the times that I had been working retail or working customer service and that person calls and they’re just on a rant. They just low blood sugar. They just want to get at you. You’re taught to keep the customer happy and just not let it escalate. Just sit there and take it, and wait for them to calm down.

Farber: Did that become part of the project?

Steves: Oh yeah. I mean everything that happened in the Museum of Capitalism is part of it, for sure.

Farber: You’re currently teaching a class at the California College of the Arts on monuments. How does that class relate to the Museum of Capitalism or do you look for other approaches to the study of monuments?

Furstnau: If you think of the Museum of Capitalism as also a kind of metamuseum, which is a museum about museums, that puts those on display, in addition to the content about capitalism in a way that’s intended to encourage visitors to see those conventions in all museums, and develop a kind of museum literacy. Some of the same questions about history and what it means to write history, and who is allowed to do that, and when it’s appropriate, are things we hope our students, but also our visitors and everyone who touches the project in our work really, to think about when they go to any museum. Not just any museum, but any monument, any place really. What are the dynamics behind this place? What is its history? What’s the agenda?

Steves: Who gets to write history? When do they get to write that history? When is it too soon? When is it too late?

Farber: What’s next for the Museum of Capitalism and FICTILIS?

Furstnau: Well, we’re still in the planning stages for bringing a version of the museum to New York City in 2019 in collaboration with the Center for Capitalism studies at the New School, which will give us an interesting chance to work on the educational aspects of the project. We’re actually going to be co-teaching a class with Julia Ott, the director of the center, which will lead in some way to an exhibition in the fall of 2019, which we’re really excited about.

Steves: We’ve also started collecting our research into what will probably be a next publication. We did a publication in conjunction with the exhibition in Oakland that presents the exhibition as a book form. We’re almost sold out, but you can still get it on our website. Probably a lot more future writing and processing, and hopefully publishing some of that work.

Farber: Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau of FICTILIS, thank you. It’s been great to speak with you.

Steves: Thanks for having us.

Furstnau: Thanks.