The Goldstein Museum of Design Exhibition “Plastic Rapt” Examines the Wonders and Worries of Plastic

The new exhibition brings light to the issue of plastic, encouraging guests to take a deeper look into its environmental impacts

Photos provided by the Goldstein Museum of Design  

Photo courtesy Adobe Stock/ink drop

Plastic. We’ve gotten to a point where can’t live without it, and it’s killing our planet.

The Goldstein Museum of Design (GMD), in its always-incisive way, acknowledges this dilemma in its current exhibition, Plastic Rapt: A History of Designing Forever, on view until Dec. 22. “On the one hand,” write the curators, “plastic is a highly functional material that is used in products like laptops, food packaging, O-rings, and surgical gloves. Brightly colored toys, flexible spatulas, leggings, and lawn chairs are typically made from plastics. On the other hand, it is asphyxiating the earth’s oceans and atmosphere, and it is not designed to go away when we want it to.”

According to recent research published in Environment International, micro-plastics (or tiny plastic particles) are not only found everywhere on earth, but they’re even in our blood. More research is underway to determine human health risks involved with plastic in the bloodstream.

Meanwhile, GMD’s exhibition aims to encourage visitors to examine their complex relationship with plastic, while also delighting in some of the life-enhancing products plastics have made possible—from chairs to radios to medical devices. The exhibition also includes lively history lessons about the development of plastics, from celluloid to Bakelite, through an array of decorative and household objects. Even while plastic has inventively solved a multitude of design challenges, it has also introduced detrimental effects into modern life that can’t yet be neutralized—with which we’ll be living for centuries.

GMD is located in McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Avenue, on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, 612-624-7434.

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