FUTURES, the Smithsonian’s first major building-wide exploration of what lies ahead, sought to address this gap. For eight months between November and July 2022, more than 650,000 people immersed themselves in the exhibition’s 32,000-square feet packed with groundbreaking ideas, contemporary art commissions, prototypes, immersive experiences and historic objects—all, explicitly, focusing on hopeful solutions to navigate the world to come.
First, and perhaps most powerful: Hope drives action. We know that awareness of a problem in and of itself doesn’t often lead to change. When faced with huge challenges like climate change and social division, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. And yet today common wisdom seems to be that that you have to scare people into taking action on a particular issue or problem. You need to focus on what could go wrong, the disastrous implications and dire consequences that might happen if we are not sufficiently vigilant or motivated.