By Alex Israel
On Thursday night, the Museum of Natural History moved a time capsule that’s set to be opened in about 1,000 years. The capsule was moved to make way for construction on the Museum’s new Richard Gilder Center, according to a presentation at a Community Board 7 Parks & Environment Committee meeting earlier this month.
The New York Times Capsule, encased within a 5′ x 5′ x 5′ sculpture of welded stainless steel designed by Santiago Calatrava, has sat outside the Museum’s Columbus Avenue entrance at 79th Street since 2001, and is to remain sealed until January 1, 3000.
According to a description of the exhibit from the Museum’s website, the capsule contains documentation of the twentieth century, including six issues of The New York Times Magazine, recordings of popular songs, and five one-minute audio portraits of New York City sounds recorded at 9:09 a.m. on 9/9/99.
During CB7’s Parks & Environment Committee meeting, representatives from AMNH proposed a new location for the capsule, whose current resting place will be the new home of a museum expansion. The suggested relocation is in a fenced off space outside the Museum’s 81st Street entrance between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, in front of the Rose Center for Earth and Space.
In choosing to relocate the sculpture to about five feet off of the sidewalk and about eight feet back behind the benches, the intention is for it “to be visually accessed from multiple angles, to see its symmetry,” according to Joe James, an Associate Principal at Reed Hilderbrand, a landscape architecture firm advising on the project.
AMNH hopes the new location and its corresponding plaque will help clarify the purpose of the sculpture, and stop local children from climbing on it. “The Times Capsule was never intended to be a playground element,” said Daniel Slippen, VP of government relations at AMNH. “So taking it off the plaza was a real focus for the Museum.”
To avoid risking any damage to the sculpture throughout the duration of the construction period, AMNH intends to store the capsule in a warehouse maintained by Tatti Art Conservation.