Playing with the V&A Museum

Ever fantasized about having carte blanche in a major museum? You know, putting a sweater vest on the Venus de milo or having a romp in that really red bed. Well, design aesthete Murray Moss, famous owner/curator of the gallery-like SoHo store moss, will be adding his own “interventions” to exhibits at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Moss teamed up with 3D printing firm Materialise to create “Industrial Revolution 2.0: How the Material World Will Newly Materialise,”  eight installations located throughout the V&A. Ostensibly a part of The London Design Festival Sept 17-25, Moss’ whimsical additions seem to have less to do with design and more to do with fulfilling the cheeky daydreams of a museum-goer. And it sounds glorious!

From the NYT:

What are some of the most surprising pieces in the show?

The bust of Lady Belhaven, from 1827. It’s really beautiful and it’s in a very important gallery, the Hintze Gallery, which is British sculpture from the 1700s through the 20th century. It’s like the heart, the don’t-you-dare-mess-with-me part of the museum. So, of course, I wanted in. Lady Belhaven looks almost like a Raphael. It’s a touching portrait of a woman who’s thinking, and I wanted to do something with it. I happened to meet Stephen Jones, who is a famous milliner. I thought maybe he could go back in a time machine to 1827 and design a hat for Lady Belhaven. Or she could come forward to 2011 and become a client. What would he do? What kind of hat would this woman wear?

But then the V & A said we couldn’t put it on her, because you can’t touch the statue. So we convinced them to let us send a scanning company. They had guards all around, and we digitized her. We captured her on a file and sent it to Stephen, who manipulated it and designed a hat on Lady Belhaven. Then we printed the whole thing and created a second Lady Belhaven bust, which we put next to the original.

I understand you’re also working with the Great Bed of Ware.

I love the Bed of Ware. The museum, through no action on its own, cleaned up the act of the bed — because it’s in the museum, it must be a noble bed. It’s this giant carved, circa 1590 to 1600 Elizabethan bed. But the truth of the bed is that it was commissioned by an inn in the town of Ware, in Hertfordshire, as an Elizabethan publicity stunt to advertise, I’m sure, something along the lines of “Have the best sex of your life in the biggest bed in England.” They spoke about it at the time. Writers wrote about it and said it could sleep 20 couples. Shakespeare included it in a very bawdy way in “Twelfth Night.” I thought, why don’t I put the sex back into the Bed of Ware, because that’s something I can do.

How do you do that?

You put 14 pairs of what look like Elizabethan prostitute shoes around the bed, to suggest that 14 occupants, plus a 15th — whoever rented the bed for the night — is sleeping in it.


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