“Today we honor Mr. Giovanni Milliano, a man that has changed the world. Mr. Milliano understands the value of an education that focuses on the arts, philosophy, and culture. Having worked for several prominent curators in his youth, including the great Leorardi Bontefictio, and founder of Ivoria Queens College of the Arts, his knowledge of history and languages has led him to be both the owner and head curator of the ‘Metropolis’ here in New….”
Giovanni was being praised by the dying rich for his life work as protector of the ancient world, but the celebration was more because of his celebrity status as ’The Last Curator on Earth’. Museums had become obsolete since the ‘Great Digitization’. There was no need to preserve artifacts in their physical form. Museums had become something only the rich cared for. It had become a symbol of status.
The white bearded man went on, in his five piece suit, retro monocle, and flashy rings. He spoke about the war, the reconstruction, the revolution, the digitization, and finally the preservation. He also spoke about how Giovanni built a hundred schools, funded them entirely for twenty years, and of his pivotal role in the collapse of the meta-banks that had taken hold of the capitol.
Many called him ‘Paradox’. On one hand, he represented the the aristocracy. On the other, he was the knife that dealt the mortal blow to the old orders of the world. Yet here he was, a trillionaire and a savior.
“Now, let us celebrate this man, whose name will be remembered for the next thousand years, if not forever.”
Thunderous applause echoed in the grandest hall of Metropolis.
“This is the last school! We need to keep it open. It is part of his legacy!” The women roared, but no one stirred.
“Gloria. We understand that you want to keep it open. Your great grandfather had good intentions. But it is part of a world we no longer live in. I am sorry, but we have to close it.” The woman at the head of the table, opposite Gloria, spoke in a commanding silence. She was the most powerful person not only in the room, but in the country. Oddly enough, I had only learned her name today. Her name was Ellena Povera.
“There is money to run it. Money to fund this damn school a thousand times over! Ivoria Queens has said they will pay every expense! I WILL PAY IT!” Ellena raised her hand. Gloria moved back, but only slightly.
“We understand. That is how things were run when Mr. Milliano was alive. But the country has changed since then. We have values we cannot abandon. I am sorry. But the decision of this council is final.” She stood, as did the other 33 women and men about her, and the left the room.
Gloria was left alone. She began to cry.
“My grandfather changed the world. And this is how they honor him.” No one heard.
The building had been abandoned for a long time. It was still beautiful, in its own way, probably more so than when it was not a ruin. We came here often, a place to explore. Since my accidental discovery of the ruin last summer, I had made it my mission to see every bit and corner of it.
“The Hall of India.” Ruru, my best friend, looked up in fascination. His ancestors were from India, supposedly, and it was his dream to go visit the land of his spiritual origin.
“Lets go. If what Teacher said is true, maybe theres art or maps in here.” Ruru began to run.
Like every other hall in the ruin, this one was empty. Broken glass scattered on the black floor, with vegetation everywhere else. The hall was ridiculously long, maybe the longest they had found thus far.
“There were a lot of things here, you can tell.” Ruru was both disappointed and excited. Being the largest hall meant that at some point in time, it had the most things in it. ‘Artifacts’ teacher called them.
We came to the end, where there was a large glass box, shattered in the front. Still intact was a small green colored rectangle at its base.
“The ‘Koh-i-Noor’,” Ruru read. “Wonder what that is.” The word sounded familiar.
“I wonder who the hell built this place.” It was a question Ruru asked frequently. He kept looking around, hoping to find something.
“Who knows.” I responded.
You could hear everyone breathe.
Libraries were a strange idea. A place where books were kept for safekeeping. Before digitization, it made sense that people needed libraries. But today, it was as obsolete as museums. But it felt good to be in one, and look around, try and feel like I was in the past. Libraries were the spaces that closest resembled museums. And since the ruin of Metropolis I had discovered as a child had been destroyed, I had no where else to go for my research.
Ever since Ruru and me found Metropolis, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to discovering what museums were, how they worked, and why they ceased to exist.
I was writing the next chapter in my dissertation, about a man who no one had ever heard of. Apparently he was the “last curator on earth.” A curator was a person who protected museums.
His name was Giovanni Milliano. I think I was the only person on earth who knew that name.