Museums always drew me in even as a child. To be able to look at objects from the past sort of gives you a window into what life was like 100 years ago or even a thousand. While visiting spain I came across a spanish inquisition museum. The museum displayed iron maidens, whips, and other torture tools from 500 years ago. The first thought that came to mind was I couldn’t imagine a world where this was everyday life.


When I got back home that museum still haunted me. Everything displayed was so foreign and no longer part of our society today. It made me think, what would future generations think about our present. Would they have the same thoughts I had. This is what laid the ground work for “Relics from the Past.” It is a thought experiment displaying controversial subjects and objects from our present that takes place in a far distant future. It is hope that we evolve from the horrible things that plague us today. As we journey through time will our descendants look back at our time and say “How could society have allowed that?”



Shackles used during slavery

19th - 21st century

These hand shackles (handcuffs) were carried around by police officers during

the 19th and 21st century. They were used to bound criminals hands behind their

back to subdue them. They often bared a strong resemblance to the shackles used

during the slavery of African-Americans before the 13th amendment. The 13th

amendment officially abolished slavery in America except for one big loophole.

It read “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for

crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the

United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” That loophole led to the

rise of the prison system that incarcerated black people at more than five times

the rate and profited for centuries off underpaid or unpaid labor. After the 13th

amendment, new offenses such as “reckless eyeballing” could send a black man

to prison for looking at a white woman. The prison industrial complex became a

big business and the criminal justice system aided in the post 13th amendment

slave trade. Across America, tens of thousands of prisoners were forced to work

on plantations, coal mines and railroads through chain gangs. As a result,

thousands of prisoners were often worked to death over minor offenses.

During the late 20th century, the war on drugs sparked a new surge in

incarceration rates throughout the poorer communities in America. Misguided

drug laws and harsh mandatory sentences started producing disproportionate

outcomes for the black and hispanic communities. Despite being around 12% of

the US population, African-Americans had the highest prison population in the

country. By the early 21st century, America had the highest incarceration rate in

the world. An even higher rate than the inhumane regimes of China and Russia.

As the years passed, prison reform activism grew, bringing ahead a new criminal

justice system that ended mandatory sentences and the incarceration of nonviolent




Substance of mass casualties

21st century

These pills came in many shapes and sizes but the results were always the same.

Opioids were a drug derived from opium, its primary use was for pain relief but

its side effects were far more insidious. When taken in large doses they created a

euphoric feeling and long-term use caused tolerance, meaning that increased

doses are required to achieve the same effect. Abruptly discontinuing the drug

would cause unbearable withdrawal symptoms including restlessness, muscle

aches, inability to sleep, diarrhea and vomiting to name a few. Symptoms begin

in the first 24 hours of not using the drug and can last up to a few days. Because

of these withdrawal symptoms, many people found it very difficult to quit using

opioids. Increased tolerance and unbearable withdrawals eventually lead to

overdosing. An overdose commonly results in death from respiratory

depression. Drug overdose deaths climbed from 16,849 in 1999 to 70,237 in 2017.

Overdose deaths rose at such an alarming rate that they lowered the life

expectancy throughout the country for consecutive years and was the leading

cause of death for adults under 55.

The main culprit in the opioid epidemic was later found out to be the

pharmaceutical industry. Making billions off of the deaths of Americans, many

pharmaceutical executives were arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

With the legalization of marijuana, people found a healthier alternative for pain

management with no side effects.

Opioid use decreased and lead the drug to become extinct.