Museum zu Allerheiligen, Schaffhausen
Curated by Urs Weibel, the exhibition ” Langzeit und Endlager” which translates “Long-term and final disposal ” picks up a topic of great poignancy. The storage of radioactive waste confronts humanity with one of their most difficult tasks. In order to guarantee a “save” storage we are obligated to develop concepts for at least 4,000 future generations. The dimension of time is the biggest issue as the realization of the storage will take at least 100.000 years, not even mentioning the safety factor which makes us look at a time frame of 1 billion years, for as long a repository for high-level radioactive waste must be built. The exhibition allows an interdisciplinary dialogue between natural and social science perspective, discussing the time horizons that arise from the obligations of the nuclear age.
With the approach to expand the discourse on the management of radioactive waste to the cultural aspects, the exhibition breaks new ground. Although the curator Urs Weibel explains that the exhibition makes no claims as to the siting of repositories and takes a neutral position on the use of nuclear power, the visitor is confronted with unimaginable timeframes, which leaves them rather with a critical opinion to nuclear power. “Langzeit und Endlager “intends to make the dimensions of time experiential that come with the issue of radioactive waste disposal. With a look into the past, it is trying to help understand what is ahead of us. The visitor gets the opportunity to develop a personal point of view on the topic by being confronted with incredible timeframes. Such an overall view is unique in the world,” says museum director Peter Jezler.
The exhibition brings the visitor through both geological and cultural-historical periods. Looking at the development of the human race, passing the ice age, ancient Egypt and medieval abbeys up to medieval monastic foundations which encountered the earlier cultures makes us recognize that we are unable to make such long-term preservation for the future.
The exhibition starts with an introduction to the 2nd world war, where the USA started their nuclear program out of fear of a possible nuclear attack from Germany. This nuclear program, which was initiated by military amour led to nuclear energy production.
A look into the development of humankind but also the development of our society shows that we`ve already experienced lability in dactylology and social trends, which forces us to face the challenge of heritage. Shall we label the disposal in several languages, built a monument, create art around this topic or maybe even start a religion to guarantee the correct memory of it? Or shall we rather forget about it?
Without a dialogue with society, we will never be able to find a solution for final disposal. The interdisciplinary exhibition presents facts and findings, revealing to it as a controversial topic which polarizes, leaving me once again with the thought that humans doom humanity.