Time Capsule

What is a time capsule?
A time capsule is a sealed container with items, carefully selected to be representative of
the present time, which is designed to be opened some time in the future. Properly
prepared time capsules preserve the salient features of history and can serve as
valuable reminders of one generation for another. Time capsules are interesting to
people of all ages and touch people on a world-wide scale. Time capsules give
individuals, families and organizations an independent voice to the future.
Why a time capsule at the McGregor Museum?
It is the ability to shape the way we will be remembered that makes time capsules so
appealing. In this our centenary year 2007, we stopped to consider the legacy we are
leaving behind and chose a handful of precious thoughts and artefacts to represent the
lives of the people of Kimberley. There are some predictions of what the future may be
like, in the words expressing our thoughts and busy daily lives. This time capsule
symbolises our belief that future generations will learn something about what we valued
in 2007 and from the footprints we left behind. We hope they will find that our footprints
were light on our land and that we left behind a rich and diverse heritage that helped
make life easier, happier and more peaceful.
A brief history of time capsules
Time capsules have a long history, stretching back to the first known literary work, The
Epic of Gilgamesh (2000BC), which opens with a hunt for a manuscript hidden in the
walls of Uruk. The great pyramids of Egypt and Mexico are also time capsules of a sort,
containing relics of ancient eras. The ruins at Pompeii, buried in ash for more than 1,600
years, formed an unintentional but impeccable time capsule depicting city life at the
height of the Roman Empire. The modern time capsule was born amid preparations for
the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, when Westinghouse constructed an 800-pound
metal ball, which it then filled with everyday items and buried underground. The world’s
largest time capsule currently is the Millennium Vault 2000, constructed in the side of a
hill on the grounds of Guildford Castle, south east England. This vault, to be opened in
3000, contains thousands of 20th century souvenirs, such as a Mini Cooper, Sony
Walkman, a collection of jokes and letters from personalities like British Prime Minister
Tony Blair. Electronic time capsules on the world wide web include the Yahoo Time
Capsule created and closed in 2006, to be opened in 2020.
The history of our time capsule
We chose a cast-iron safe of around 100 years old as our time capsule, which will be 200
years old when it is opened in 2107. This safe was used by the Beaconsfield Town
Council sometime between 1883 and 1912, and was donated to the museum when
Beaconsfield and Kimberley became one municipality in 1912. The lettering ‘BTC’ on the
doors refers to the Beaconsfield Town Council. The safe was in storage for many years
and needed sandblasting and a new lock mechanism before it could be used as a time
The safe before renovation
(July 2006).
The safe in the process of sandblasting
(December 2006).
The safe being transported to the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum (July 2007).
The De Beers Consolidated Mines Services Department team responsible for repairing
and delivering the safe (July 2007).
What’s in this time capsule?
The people of Kimberley were invited through the media to submit items or their thoughts
for the time capsule.
The Museum contributed items and articles on important issues in 2007 such as global
warming, HIV/AIDS, a cell phone, a book entitled ‘How Cool Stuff Works’, seeds and
photos of common and threatened plants of the Kimberley area, environmental education
resources such as A year of special days and Envirofacts sheets, a radio, an old spade
probably used when the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum was built, copies of
‘very sensitive’ letters from C.J. Rhodes to F.S. Philipson-Stow (1886-1898), strike action
in 2007, advertising brochures and the museum annual report for 2006-2007.
A special competition was held to encourage local schools to contribute interesting and
creative items. The prize giving took place on 22 June 2007 to hand out 68 prizes to
many deserving individuals. Learners from Grades 4 – 10 at the following schools
submitted items - Kimberley Girls High, St. Patrick’s College, Kimberley Junior School,
!Xunkhwesa Combined School, Adamantia Hoërskool, Diamandveld Laerskool and
Diamandveld Hoërskool.
Some of the around 100 Items submitted for the time capsule.
The Executive Mayor of the Sol Plaatje Municipality wrote a letter for inclusion.
Organizations who contributed items include the Wildlife and Environment Society of
South Africa (Northern Cape Region), The Africana Library, Cansa, Keep Kimberley
Clean, Ekapa Mining, The Big Hole Museum, SwiftPrint, Diamond Pavilion, Kimberley
Transport Museum and Mokala National Park.
Time Capsule Project Committee
The persons responsible for organising and preparing the time capsule were Annemarie
van Heerden and Tania Anderson of the Botany Department and Suzanne Erasmus of
the Education Department, McGregor Museum.
S. Erasmus, A. van Heerden and T. Anderson (left to right, June 2007).
With much thanks to our sponsors
Mokala National Park
Mattanu Game Ranch
De Beers Consolidated Mines Services Department
The Kimberley Club
Diamond Pavilion
Defs Engineering, Parsons Home Appliances, Mugg & Bean, MovieZone & Debonairs
Compiled by T. Anderson
For a full list of items
List of items in Time Capsule