By the end of Year Fifteen, there are three hundred people living in the airport, and the Museum of Civilization has filled the Skymiles Lounge. Earlier, Clark had to work constantly on the everyday tasks of survival. But now that he is older and there are more people living there, he is able to tend to the Museum all day. Everyone seems to want to preserve something that has no practical use, and traders often bring things for Clark, who keeps detailed records.
In the years since the collapse, Clark has aged, and his responsibilities have shifted from the tasks of survival to only the upkeep of his Museum of Civilization. Everyone he encounters, not just Clark, seems to want to preserve some vestige of civilization. Clark takes his curator role very seriously, as he makes meticulous records.
Included in the Museum are Elizabeth and Tyler’s passports, which they gave to Clark before leaving in Year Two. He reflects on them as unsetting people, remembering an incident with Tyler before they left. Clark had seen Tyler reading from a book to the abandoned airplane at the edge of the tarmac. Tyler was reading passages from the Book of Revelations from the Bible, and when confronted, he tells Clark that the virus happened for a reason, and that they were saved for a reason.
Elizabeth and Tyler’s passports, which are obsolete because there are no longer any countries or borders, have been in the museum since they left in year two. The haunting incident they remind Clark of indicates just how affected Tyler was by the collapse and his mother’s religious influence, as he believes that he was saved for a reason.
After this creepy interaction, Clark tried to confront Elizabeth, but she agreed with Tyler and clearly had given him the idea that the pandemic happened for a reason. Later that summer, when a religious group wandered to the airport, Elizabeth and Tyler left to join the group and live a more spiritual life. Clark thinks that he should have worked harder to pull Elizabeth from the edge of insanity, but knows that he had to fight hard to stay sane himself.
Though Clark tries to confront Elizabeth in an effort to help Tyler take on less extreme views, he finds that Elizabeth agrees with the boy, having instilled the values in him herself. The mother and son leave with a cult to become even more religious, and Clark partially regrets not devoting more effort to helping them. At the same time, to survive one must focus intensely on staying sane.
In Year Fifteen, people come to the museum after their days of work to reflect on the past. James likes to look at a motorcycle and Emmanuel is interested in the phones. At the school in Concourse C, children memorize things that make no sense to them, like the fact that airplanes used to fly, the abstraction of the Internet, or the notions of countries and cities.
For those living in the airport who remember the world before the collapse, the museum is a comforting reminder of the past. But for those born after the collapse, it is a source of education about the way the world used to be.
In the fall of that year, a trader comes through with a newspaper from New Petoskey, which includes mention of a performance of King Lear by something called The Traveling Symphony and an interview by François Diallo of Kirsten Raymonde. In the interview, Clark reads Kirsten’s retelling of Arthur’s death, and becomes shocked to encounter someone who also knew Arthur. Reading these newspapers is incredible to Clark, and they give him the impression that the world might be waking up and heading back towards civilization.
Clark reads the interview, which we have been given glimpses of, and learns that someone else who knew Arthur has survived. Even though the two have never met, they are connected by the people they know and by the paperweight which will eventually come into Kirsten’s possession. What’s more, the fact that someone is able to publish a newspaper indicates that perhaps civilization is slowly being rebuilt, small town by small town.