This is a replica of the MONIAC, a hydraulic proto-computer that economist Bill Phillips created in 1949 while studying at the London School of Economics. Adjustable pipes and containers direct flows of water which illustrate the flows of capital in and out of a national economy. (A Fortune magazine article from 1952, displayed nearby, explains how the machine works.)
In the early 1950s, the Central Bank of Guatemala purchased a MONIAC to study economic dependency as it undertook a reform program meant to loosen the United States’ monopoly on banana exports, its most profitable industry. But in 1954, a US-backed coup d’état overthrew the Guatemalan government, and the MONIAC disappeared. Stevenson reconstructed the eccentric machine through extensive research on its whereabouts—comparing it to “the fountain of prosperity”—and the hopes placed in it.
Gallery label from Chosen Memories, April 30–September 9, 2023