When I think about the 1990s, here’s what comes to mind: roller blades, crimped hair, Beanie Babies and Walkmen. But there was more to the decade than tacky products and oversized flannel.
The ’90s saw seismic shifts in American culture, some of which are on display in a new exhibit at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. It might be hard to believe – or admit– that 1990 was 26 years ago. Doesn’t it feel like yesterday?
Koven Smith, the director of digital adaptation at the Blanton Museum of Art, says he doesn’t see it that way. He helped put together the ’90s exhibit “Come As You Are.” The main focus is visual art, but there’s also a special music project that coincides with the exhibit.
“We’re doing a mixtape project,” Smith says. “While you’re viewing the art of the ’90s, you can listen to the music of the ’90s on the technology of the ’90s.”
Yes, there are two plastic bins filled with old-school Sony Walkmen and one tall tower jammed packed with Casio tapes. But the music on those tapes is up to you.
“The idea was, ‘Oh! Let’s have visitors send us their own mixtapes and we’ll turn those into mixtapes!'” Smith says. “We’re actually in my office right now and you can see I’ve got two tape decks going.”