The Museum Of July 22nd, 1987
Although the concept behind the Museum of July 22nd 1987 may seem limited, its contents prove to be anything but. In the two years since the museum, located in the Hackney area of London, first opened, it has been host to an ever changing array of exhibits, including film screenings and live events, without ever once repeating anything.
When it first opened, the museum’s focus was on major political and sporting events of that day, such as coverage of the then still ongoing Iran Contra hearings, and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev announcing that he was ready to discuss the elimination of intermediate-range missiles on a worldwide basis. Shortly after opening, the museum organisers widened their scope to include smaller, less globally significant but nonetheless equally interesting events, such as a propane gas fire that destroyed two buildings in New York, and a story from a local Scottish paper about an eight year old winning a haggis eating contest.
The museum’s first major success came three months after opening, in July of 2007, when they held a birthday party for those born on July 22nd, 1987. Entry was open only to those born on that day and all attendees were required to bring with them a copy of their birth certificate and a photograph of themselves as a baby, both of which would be donated to the museum. Over 500 people turned up from across the UK and Europe, and the event received coverage on national news programmes in several countries.
Two weeks later the diary room was opened, containing diary entries from July 22nd 1987 which had been sent in from all around the world. This has become the museum’s only permanent fixture, although the diary entries themselves change constantly. Currently you can read as a middle aged taxi driver from south Wales describes an annoying passenger, an 11 year old Spanish girl writes about her day at school, and a woman on death row considers what will happen to her infant son. There is even an entry that appears to be from singer Rod Stewart.
Since then the museum has been host to a variety of innovative and creative exhibits. Last month there was an installation based around a fight outside a pub in Sheffield, with newspaper clippings, police reports, video clips of local news coverage, and new interviews with those involved. Next month there will be the premiere of a specially commissioned documentary on the assassination of Palestinian cartoonist Naji Salim al-Ali. And the organisers have promised a live event for this year’s July 22nd that will be more amazing than ever.