The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna started a program in 2012 that opened its doors for "remarkable creative individuals" to select pieces from their massive historical collection to present in an exhibition. Filmmaker Wes Anderson and his partner Juman Malouf are the most recent curators in this program. So, for the last two years, they have been putting together their offbeat Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures.
Artnet describes the exhibit as "a totally quirky presentation of affectionate misfits":
Perhaps the duo's penchant for the collection's oddball items also stems from their own awareness of being outsiders in a prestigious establishment replete with trained art historians, curators, and conservators.
One senior curator said that some of museum staff were skeptical of the project at first. "We would get an email from Wes asking, 'Do you have a list of green objects? Could you send us a list of everything you have that is yellow?' Our data system does not have these categories."
Because of this, the curators and conservators had to manually search their storage, an often painstaking process due climate controls and the condition checks needed, neither of which Anderson or Malouf were aware of.
The extra labor required was taxing, but the duo's alternative criteria had a welcome side effect: It leveled the usual hierarchies. Several staff members said it resulted in new revelations. They just had to "learn to unlearn" their ways of working.
The exhibit opened November 6 and will be on view through April 28, 2019.