A cultural history of plastic?

PVC exhibition in northern sealand

On the 2nd of may, plastic is celebrated as an industral product. In response to the year of industrial culture, the danish plastic producers is among other things publishing a book about the danish plastic production. The danish plastic industry is today a considerable part of the overall landscape of industrial society. With 35.000 employees and 70 % export, plastic has a considerable position within the national industrial production. The producers count large, global corporations as LEGO as well as a long line of small and medium enterprises that is typical of the danish industrial sector.

An example of the plastic revolution is the medical industry, where “use-and-dispose” has changed the sanitary agenda. Danish firms like Coloplast has gained international importance in a strongly specialized production in this field.

Other examples are toys, furniture, storing boxes and an endless list of products, through which plastic found its way into nearly all parts of modern everyday life. With the technology of die casting, just about anthing could be moulded in practically no time, and the technology is part of recent experimentation in 3D-printing which points towards a convergence of communication and production industry.

Nationalmuseets department of Modern History has already shown plastic products in Brede, and we are considering taking the material into account in the exhibition of industrial culture, Brede Works, at the same location. Here is also, which is rare in Europe, research in plastic conservation.

There is a profound interest for plastic in Denmark in these years: The art museum of Trapholt published last year a book on the subject, there has just been a PVC-exhibition in the plastic “silicon valley” of northern Sealand, there is a book on the way about the history of the industry, and the subject has been dealt with in periodicals as “Factory and Dwelling” and “Folk og Kultur” in the 1990’s. In Denmark, Technical Museum in Elsinore and others has dealt with the history of plastic production.

We know that the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has dealt with plastic, but if other international museums of cultural history has done so, or is contemplating doing so, we would be grateful for a comment.

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