Friday, May 24, 2024
Friday, May 24, 2024
Home » The Met Reveals Multisensory Details About ‘Sleeping Beauties’ Exhibition

The Met Reveals Multisensory Details About ‘Sleeping Beauties’ Exhibition

by Cole Burke
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In light of consumers’ shrinking attentions spans, visual overload, and a sea of entertainment options, it is no surprise that the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is upping the multisensory components of its spring show “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.”

As a precursor to the May 10 public opening, The Met has enlisted some multidimensional talents to join Anna Wintour in cochairing The Met Gala on May 6. ZendayaJennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny and Chris Hemsworth will help with the honors. All attendees will follow “The Garden of Time” dress code. This year Shou Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok, and Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, will serve as honorary chairs.

Once “Sleeping Beauties” is unveiled, 250 garments and accessories will be showcased to indicate how they relate to nature beyond the naked eye. For example, passing by floral hats, Met goers will be prompted to smell “the aromatic histories of the hats” bearing floral motifs, or to touch the walls of the galleries that will be embossed with the embroidery of select garments. They will also be able to see a form and floral decoration of the “Mini Miss Dior” dress through an enhanced 3D printed maquette and the intricate embroidery of a 1615–1620 waistcoat through an interactive embossed wallpaper.

Visitors will be listening up in other areas in order to “hear” the sounds that can be made with a metal ensemble from Marni’s spring 2024 collection and a dress comprised of razor clam shells from Alexander McQueen‘s spring 2001 collection — a design that was inspired by a walk that McQueen once took on a beach. The audio feature was isolated and recorded in an anechoic chamber. 

Zendaya
Zendaya is one of the cochairs. JAMES GOURLEY/GETTY IMAGES

Aiming to relay an even more heightened experience, The Met will clue ticket holders into how the “hobble skirt” impeded women’s strides in the early 20th century; the restrictive fashion trend arrived in 1908 and peaked in 1914. To get a better multidimensional sense for an evening dress and hobble skirt designed by Jeanne Hallée from 1913–1914, The Met will be using “Pepper’s ghost,” an illusionary technique in which an image of an object offstage is projected so that it appears to be in front of the audience. Collectively, the idea is that people will see the connection of fashion to nature, as well as the transience of fashion. The exhibition’s undercurrents correlate with how many shoppers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, as well as materialism in general.

Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of The Costume Institute, is organizing the exhibition and the highly inventive Nick Knight is serving as creative consultant, with Showstudio developing and realizing the various technological activations. Exhibition design is being handled by Leong Leong in collaboration with The Met’s Design Department. Smell researcher and artist Sissel Tolaas will develop smells to accompany select objects in the show.

Other key attractions in the galleries will be a series of “sleeping beauties,” which The Met described in advance material for the exhibition as “garments that can no longer be dressed on mannequins due to their fragility.” Two versions of Charles James’s “Butterfly” ballgown — one in prime condition and the other a “sleeping beauty” with extensive damage will highlight the rare occurrence of duplicates in the collection. James’ design from 1955 consisted of a narrow “chrysalis” sheath of pleated silk chiffon over silk satin and an exuberant “winged” bustle skirt of nylon tulle. The “sleeping beauty” will magnify the damaged chiffon on the surface, due to its construction and handling, as well as the volume of tulle on the back of the dress that places considerable weight on a relatively small area.

The Costume Institute’s team is employing first-hand research, conservation analysis, and such technologies as artificial intelligence, computer-generated imagery, X-rays, video animation, light projection and soundscapes. Such kaleidoscopic features and potential social media moments should entice a wider audience including first-timers beyond the tried-and-true diehard museum goers who may visit a few times a year.

The exhibition and The Met Gala are being made possible by TikTok. Support is also being provided by Loewe.

Like other leading museums and cultural institutions, The Met is developing more multimedia ways to attract a more diverse body of visitors. These arts-related forces aren’t alone in striving for more immersive experiences to engage audiences of all ages and interests. This fall the “Elvis Evolution,” an AI-supported extravaganza about the life of Elvis Presley that also incorporates the multisensory such as the farmland scent of his home state of Mississippi, will bow in London. And “Dr. Jane’s Dream,” an immersive experience about the landmark work of primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall is reportedly slated to open in East Africa later next year. On Saturday, the work of Austrian painter Gustav Klimt will be illuminated in the Emigrant Bank in lower Manhattan in the one-day public exhibition Gustav Klimt, Gold in Motion” at the Hall Des Lumieres.

Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is also trying to relay a more immersive experience through “Hallyu! The Korean Way,” which explores how Korea became a cultural superpower and features myriad contemporary touchstones like K-pop videos, a dance contest area and video footage of multiple screens playing “Gangnam Style.”

Last year The Met welcomed 5.36 million visitors, which was a marked upswing compared to the annual tallies during the pandemic, but still not comparable to pre-pandemic levels.

Source: WWD

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