Wednesday, 24 February 2016




The end is nigh…

The Apocalypse is here. From arthouse films to summer blockbusters, destroying the world and surviving its aftermath has never been more popular. But there is one bright spot to be found in all the blood and mayhem: like in all apocalyptic fiction, something of society survives.

As shown in many films and TV shows – such as 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and The 100 – certain cultural artefacts are often saved as representatives of a lost society when the apocalypse hits. That being said, these fictional works assume that these collections have been pre-selected by a council of “experts”. Fictional experts aside, I was curious to know what other cultural artefacts might survive an apocalypse. So I asked and you responded! Drumroll…and the lucky objects are:

Taxidermy Passenger Pigeon
“I know that sounds strange but I figure the world may need an environmental reminder of how things can go wrong. Is that so terribly grim?” – Jenny

© 2016 Smithsonian Institution

Tina Turner’s steel mail dress from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
“If the world has gone to hell, I will track down Tina Turner's steel mail dress from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome to assert myself as chief badass in the apocalyptic wasteland, and preserve (pop) cultural memory.” – Anya


Zippo Lighter
"It's iconic, portable, and most of all, a survival tool." – Glenn

North Pacific Coast No. 12 Sonoma
“It’s one of the most beautiful locomotives; a sad reminder of the destruction of our home in this world and the irrevocable remorse of manifest destiny.” – Alex

© 2011-2014 California State Railroad Museum

The Declaration of Independence
“It contains such beautiful and inspiring words about equality and happiness… The Declaration of Independence is also a self-rescuing princess and that’s why I know it will survive the apocalypse!” – MD

Steamboat Willie animated short film
“Because who doesn’t love Disney, really?” – Anonymous

Golden Horse Fountain of Yarmouth, NS
“It just reminds me of home, and I can’t imagine surviving the apocalypse without it. Plus it has already survived nature’s elements, wayward snowplows, and a home-made bomb – not to mention high school grads!” – Sheila

© Parks Canada

“The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch
“It’s a fantastic story that invites kids to use their imaginations while also promoting girl power!” – Pamela

© 2016 Robert Munsch

Magna Carta
“It’s the document that led to democracy and modern civilization. If civilization is ending then it’s the one document that we should save to rebuild it.” – Tim

“It’s such a symbol for the advancement of equality in human kind. It begins the weakening of the ruling power and the steps towards the democracy (mostly) that we continue to thrive in.” – Sarah

© British Library Board

Original script for Star Wars
“Only because it would be funny if it became a creation story.” – Anonymous

A Pink Bedazzled Hammer
Gilmore Girls said it best: I can use it to build a really pretty house in the post-apocalypse. It also doubles as a weapon.” – Jessica


The Rosetta Stone
“It gave us the ability to understand Egyptian hieroglyphics and if civilization does collapse and become something out of the TV show The 100, it would provide the opportunity to rediscover Greek.” – Victoria

“Language is the most important tool humans have. And it’s a fascinating reminder of its evolution.” – Beka

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Original manuscripts of “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
“[Tolkien] is one of the greatest authors of all time. It’s a timeless story that can lend its teachings to all aspects of life; something that could be read over and would still show you something new each time.” – Josh

© 2016, Peter Harrington

World Topographic Map
“Large and detailed….I would try to get one without country boundaries. Depending on the type of apocalypse, it could be very useful or remind future societies of what was destroyed.” – Leena

© 2008-2015 National Geographic Maps

The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) on vinyl
"There is an element of sunshine and comfort when listening to the music. It would certainly make for a nice, mellow afternoon in the bunker.” – Jennifer

A massive thank-you to everyone who participated in my call-out on social media!

Last chance, the apocalypse is here! What cultural artefact would you save?

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