My last stop in downtown San Rafael was a tiny museum with an unusual premise: the Museum of International Propaganda.
Housed in a former shoe store, each section of the museum is devoted to a certain type of propaganda. Examples include leader worship, promoting the military, and demonizing a perceived enemy.
It seemed to me a prevailing theme was the truth didn’t matter, as long as it got the message across. Are the farms failing? Start a rumor of an American covert operation! Is the leader of the country a war criminal? Here’s a photo of him smiling with some children!
One of the most surprising artifacts in the museum is a watch, part of a limited series given out to soldiers who participated in the Tiananmen Square massacre.
At the end of the main gallery, it switches to parodies of propaganda:
It’s interesting how the same imagery used to control the populace can be flipped on its head, now mocking the same authority it was once used to prop up.
The last area of the museum is a temporary gallery; it’s worth pointing out here the museum has only been around a couple years so temporary is relative. Right now it’s mostly about propaganda from the last presidential election to present day.
My recommendation: This is a very thought provoking museum, far more interesting than I would have expected. Definitely work a visit if you’re in the area and it happens to be open (the hours are very limited.) It’s free, though they do accept donations and ask you to sign the guestbook.