Nordiska museet in Stockholm, Sweden is currently showing an exhibition entitled "Garbage". As one can see from the exhibition documentation photos on Flickr, developing the exhibition included using both historical and ethnographic research methods. The museum writes that:
Garbage is a thought-provoking exhibition about keeping and throwing away, about what garbage actually is and the emotions we feel about it – nostalgia, uncertainty, anguish and aversion. And about what it was like long ago, when hardly anything became garbage.
The Swedish exhibition text says more: "150 years ago, the rate of consumption was lower - and garbage was part of a natural cycle. The exhibition includes objects telling that almost nothing was garbage before - patched and mended clothes ended up as insulation in the timber wall, or women’s sanitary napkins were made from a worn shirt and stuffed with rags. Recycling has historically been the norm."
The exhibition also includes a recycling laboratory, where visitors can transform various forms of garbage into sports equipment.
You can see it in Stockholm until September 25th, 2011.