Some great discovery associated with it may hereafter make our most sanguine forecast of today seem poor and mean beside the reality. That its collections must increase is the law of its being. To it are coming, and will continue to come, things rich and rare from the four quarters of the globe. No limit can be set to its expansion along the lines already so wisely laid down, nor to the results which may flow from it. This is the century of wonders, and its closing years are like to be the climax for all which have preceded them. Men of science tell us that the problem of aerial navigation is on the eve of solution, mainly through atmospheric observations and the study of the motion and structure of birds, carried on it part in collections like this. It is said that the mighty power of electricity has not even shaken off its swaddling clothes, and is yet to tower before us like genie of the Arabian tale from the unsealed vase. If these things be true, and if other revelations of which we do not even dream are to remake the world in these or some of these, it may well be that the institution will have an honored part.
Mr. Edward G. Mason, President of the Chicago Historical Society, “The Message of the Museum to Chicago and the World.”
Field Museum opening day and dedication ceremony, June 2nd, 1894. 8,000-10,000 people in attendance.
Reading this passage gave me chills, putting myself in the position of those at the ceremony, their place in time and history. The fact that when the Museum was opened - the same collections I work in today - that aerial flight was on the horizon, and electricity was in its earliest, infantile stages, is awesome in every sense of the word. Many of these words have endured* more than 120 years and uphold the mission we carry out today – No limit can be set to its expansion along the line already so wisely laid down, nor to the results which may flow from it.
If these people thought then we were at the brink of discovery, then now we are just beginning the gradual downward slope into the infinite spiral. At the center of that spiral lay our increasingly important museums and the collections they house.