In 1939 the Time Capsule lay fifty feet down in the mud of Flushing Meadows, launched on its sedentary "5000-Year Journey" into the future; a large and costly building was opened for the Museum of Modern Art; Hitler marched into Poland and then almost immediately sat down in front of the French Maginot Line; a host of famous modern artists was fleeing from Europe to the United States. These events are not listed in the order of their occurrence or necessarily in that of their importance. They are merely happenings in another chapter of the drama: Change against Permanence, or, Time against Man.
Poland was ancient in a sort of off-and-on way: once more it had been; now, once again, it was no more. The Maginot Line was "permanent, impregnable"--we would be finding out about that soon enough.
As for the Time Capsule, people crowded around the narrow open well to gawk down at the slim seven-and-one- half-foot copper alloy cartridge awaiting the day when the well would be sealed as the bugle blew "Taps." The contents were common knowledge: a woman's hat, a razor, cigarettes, a toothbrush and cosmetics, hybrid seeds, dictionaries, a microfilm packed with current lore. The magazine Time called it "a miniature museum." No one knew, however, whether Westinghouse Electric's "memento to the future" would ever be dug up. For time the termite worked in the mud around it; change was sealed in the capsule together with all those perishable souvenirs of a harried yet hopeful day.
The new Museum building, designed in the International Style by architects Philip L. Goodwin and Edward D. Stone,