Historic Futures

Galleria Rustica is pleased to present this exhibition of drawings and paintings from forward-thinking illustrators and thinkers at the dawn of the Twentieth century, exploring what they got uncannily right, and what they got very wrong.

Closer together,
further apart

From Zoom and Skype calls in the 1870s, to dating and betting apps in the 1900s, these proposed inventions from Punch magazine, connecting us and isolating us, were eerily prescient.

“Every evening, before going to bed, Pater- and Materfamilias set up an electric camera-obscura over their bedroom mantel-piece, and gladden their eyes with the sight of their Children at the Antipodes, and converse gaily with them through the wire.”

“Development of Wireless Telegraphy. Scene in Hype Park. These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady is receiving an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results.”

A vision of the year 2000

In 1900, to celebrate the turn of the century, Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists produced over 80 postcards depicting life in the year 2000.

Unlike those above from Punch, these predictions mostly fell some way off the mark.

Audiobooks from the 1890s

With innovations in phonographic technology continuing apace, it is only a matter of time until all text is replaced — or so a character in Octave Uzanne’s tale from 1894, The End of Books, thought.

Printing, he stated, is “threatened with death by the various devices for registering sound which have lately been invented, and which little by little will go on to perfection.”


These collections draw on the fascinating work of the Public Domain Review, a not-for-profit project dedicated to exploring curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas.

Whilst this exhibition is in no way affiliated with the Public Domain Review, we encourage you to visit their website and support the project if you are able.