Whatever you take away from the Museum of Neoliberalism, you definitely won’t forget the display ‘Bottle of Amazon employee urine’. According to the museum, it came from a worker in one of the company’s fulfilment centres who passed up a toilet break in order not to fall behind on work targets. It’s just one of the ways this place confronts you with how modern economic structures have trickled down into people’s everyday lives.
Tucked between a laundrette and a hairdressers in an unassuming post-war shopping centre in Lewisham, the museum explains its purpose in a window sign: ‘to look back on neoliberalism, what it has done to our world; and what might lie beyond it’. Turns out, it’s quite scary stuff.
The exhibition, which begins with a display setting out the main players of twentieth-century neoliberalism, has been created by satirical artist Darren Cullen and Gavin Grindon, a lecturer at the University of Essex who curated parts of Banksy’s Dismaland.
Like the suspects board of a detective on the edge, it’s covered in a criss-cross of red string connecting images of Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
You’re then exposed to the ways capitalism has seeped into our lives, from Scouts badges embroidered with oil company logos to a replica of the cladding and insulation at Grenfell Tower.
Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s hard not to be moved. The museum admits that it ‘may seem dispiriting’, but it’ll stoke a fire in your belly for change.