How Do You Open an Interactive Museum in a Pandemic? Very Rigorously

How Do You Open an Interactive Museum in a Pandemic? Very Carefully

New York’s first Make-up Museum, an immersive, interactive idea specializing in contact and experimentation, was slated to open in Could. Its premiere exhibition, “Pink Jungle: 1950s Make-up in America,” would encourage guests to participate in experiences like mixing their very own make-up or indulging in facials modeled on those given to Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo. Artifacts of that halcyon period, like elaborate compacts or rhinestone-studded lipstick instances, can be out there for dealing with.

Then the pandemic hit.

All museums closed, after all, and have solely just lately began to reopen, with many new restrictions. The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, for instance, which reopened in late August, solely takes timed tickets or reservations and requires masks and temperature checks. An interactive make-up museum, nonetheless, dedicated to the thought of making use of merchandise to 1’s face, appeared like one other problem to determine altogether.

However on Tuesday, the Make-up Museum lastly opened to the general public after an entire rethink of the place. Sampling colours and dealing with objects had been changed with social distancing guidelines, enhanced know-how and masks necessities. Along with the standard artistic calls for of mounting an exhibit, the curators confronted “a lot uncertainty, so many extra logistical challenges,” mentioned Doreen Bloch, a museum co-founder.

The presentation of “Pink Jungle” was fully overhauled. Gone had been any tactile parts that might not be instantly sanitized and the prop-heavy, Instagram-worthy picture stations which have grow to be the hallmark of different new interactive museums just like the Museum of Ice Cream and the KGB Espionage Museum. The “Combine Lab,” an interactive station the place friends may create their very own take-home magnificence elixirs, was scrapped and the exhibition is now “a wholly touchless expertise,” Ms. Bloch mentioned

The thrust and look of the present, which focuses on the affect of the post-World Battle II period, with its purple lips and signature cat eyes, stays the identical. “The innovation of the 1950s actually set the course for the place make-up is right now,” Ms. Bloch mentioned.

However curators additionally realized, partly due to the Black Lives Matter protests this summer time, that they wanted to spotlight the “rigidity,” Ms. Block defined, between nostalgia for a glamorous period and the truth that it was “very Eurocentric, very white-centric, very heteronormative.”

As such, the museum is displaying classic copies of Jet journal, which spoke particularly to Black ladies, however supplied problematic commercials for skin-lightening lotions and different merchandise that centered on the wonder very best of whiteness. A replica of a 1954 guide known as Femme Mimics: A Pictorial Report of Feminine Impersonation, provides a uncommon inside take a look at drag in an period when simply carrying the clothes of the other intercourse was usually nonetheless unlawful.

Concerning different objects within the exhibition, like eyeliner instruments, hair dryers, and lipstick instances that present the evolution of packaging and gear, curators met by way of FaceTime this summer time to debate learn how to reconfigure socially distanced show instances, wall mountings and demonstration tables. Contact screens to information guests by way of the present had been changed with an interactive telephone app, which can also be a solution to go to the museum remotely.

Ms. Bloch mentioned that not opening the Make-up Museum was by no means an choice. “Everybody was so unanimous that the neighborhood needs and wishes this,” she mentioned. “So many individuals have been simply so face-to-face with know-how day-after-day, that there’s this longing for simply being in that holy area that could be a museum.”

And regardless that the museum is leaning closely on know-how to make sure a protected go to, it nonetheless provides an “analog” world, Ms. Bloch mentioned.

“Museums simply have a capability to hone our consideration and permit us to give attention to gadgets or tales that matter and inform historical past in a extremely profound means,” she continued. “That’s by no means been performed earlier than for magnificence.”

The Make-up Museum is at 94 Gansevoort Road in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. For extra data, go to

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