The DoSeum's Dream Tomorrow Today exhibition features a gateway of recycled materials by artist-in-residence Calder Kamin. Credit: Nicholas Frank / San Antonio Report

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The Dream Tomorrow Today exhibit, which opened June 2 at The DoSeum, invites kids to enter an exciting future where they’re the ones calling the shots. In this project developed with help from the San Antonio community, children fast forward to learn vital skills and engage in the coolest thought experiment for all ages – the future! Kids will explore their near reality in this high-tech, immersive exhibit and, of course, practice building a better future now.

The concept for Dream Tomorrow Today emerged last spring as the result of community-wide collaboration. It took shape during several brainstorming sessions between The DoSeum’s Exhibits team and forward-thinking groups in the community including local families, SA2020, SA Tomorrow, Center for the Future of Museums, Teach the Future, ACE Labs, and others. The Exhibits team, led by Meredith Doby, eventually decided to play with the questions: What future challenges will today’s kids face, and how will they solve them?

Far from flying cars, life on other planets, or all-insect diets, the groups’ findings were surprising.

“It became immediately apparent that the exhibit didn’t need to be about the things or technologies you might find in the future,” Doby said. “Instead, we wanted to focus on the skills needed to think about the future. Themes around empathy, problem-solving, and collaboration emerged.”

From that discovery, team members decided to integrate six guiding values into the exhibit. They based their core principles around SA2020’s Cause Areas: Health, Transportation, Arts and Culture, Education, Community, and Nature.

Kids (and adults, too) will dive into those values through imaginative and fun activities. For instance, in the City Lab Augmented Reality App, kids will use AR tiles to build a city and see if it can survive a flood. (Hint: If a city lives by all of the values, it will stay afloat.) The app will also be available as a free download so that kids can continue building their city and earning value cards at home. (See app download links for Apple and Android phones.)

Another highly anticipated activity, Sketch Town, was developed by the Japanese-based digital art collective, teamLab. In the interactive and colorific Sketch Town, children use a familiar tool – the crayon – to draw their city. Then through a magic scanner, their inventions emerge as animated figures onto a giant 3D screen. The DoSeum is excited to share with San Antonio teamLab’s first museum feature in the United States – It’s pretty awesome.

Much of the exhibit, like Sketch Town and City Lab Augmented Reality, shows visitors the reality they create. For kids especially, seeing the imaginary come to life is an empowering experience. Doby hopes that if kids walk away with only one lesson, it’s that their vision of the future is important and possible.

“Children can engage with topics that adults often overthink,” Doby said. “They’re not weighed down by practicality…and, in some ways, are better able to approach future ‘real world’ issues.”

The exhibit steps even closer to “real world” in its final activity, Calls to Action, which challenges children to connect with local nonprofits, many which can be found on SA2020’s community partners list. Doby hopes that kids are moved to take the lessons of Dream Tomorrow Today into their everyday lives.

“We want to help them take this spark of inspiration and give them an actionable first step to their future,” Doby said.

Dream Tomorrow Today is a distinctly local exhibit, developed by and for the community. It reflects the pride of San Antonio and, at the same time, hurdles the city faces. At this defining moment – amidst the Tricentennial, a major bond package, and a multi-modal transportation initiative – The DoSeum looks ahead and, as always, serves as a convener for the community. Visit the Dream Tomorrow Today exhibit now through Jan. 2, 2019 to envision the future, together!

Monica Simmons is a writer based in San Antonio and Austin. With a bachelor’s degree from Whitman College and expertise in education and publishing, she now writes for The DoSeum, The San Antonio Current,...