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Oakland’s new Museum of Capitalism opens Saturday

Subversive pop-up display imagines a post-supply and demand world

Anyone trying to buy or rent a home in the Bay Area these last five years has been getting a near daily lesson in the realities of a capitalist economy.

But for some perspective that doesn’t hit quite so close to home, consider a trip to Oakland’s latest museum.

The incoming Museum of Capitalism (whose Instagram account describes it as “coming soon—too soon”), a pop-up enterprise in Jack London Square set to open its doors on Saturday, says that its mission is to “remember capitalism through art, artifacts, and exhibitions.”

Yes, in a bit of subversive cheek, the new institution imagines itself the product of an alternate reality in which capitalist economies died out.

“Much of the evidence of capitalism is either eroding over time or simply not known or easily accessible to the public,” the curators write on the museum site, adding “Our educational work is crucial for establishing justice for the victims of capitalism and preventing its resurgence.”

Although it remains true that “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please,” alternate history seems to be another matter.

Of course, as outlets like CityLab have been quick to point out, the museum itself—which is appropriately located in a closed, 13,000 square foot storefront—includes such free enterprises of its own as a gift shop, which even sells a board game called “Anti-Monopoly.”

But maybe that’s not surprising, since “Marxism and capitalism are symbiotic, and neither can expect to outlive the other.”

Admission is free of charge, but donations are encouraged—presumably a “from each according to his ability” principle in action.

But although some of the coverage has assumed curators Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau nurse fellow traveler ambitions, Furstnau told Artnet News “Part of historicizing capitalism is to realize its strong appeal.”

After all, “Out of necessity, one has to learn from one's enemies.”

So what do you put in a post-capitalist Museum of Capitalism?

The opening exhibition includes banners commemorating banks that went bankrupt, flashing police sirens arranged in the pattern of the American flag, and gold bars that are actually made out of dirt.

The opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, at 6 p.m. But since “the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings,” it looks like there’s now a waitlist to attend.