As part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' "Edward Hopper and the American Hotel" exhibition, the curators have created a brilliant installation and visitor experience that's seemingly made for Instagram. They built a physical version of Hopper's above painting "Western Hotel" (1957) and offered overnight stays inside the artwork. The overnight packages sold out very quickly. The New York Times' Margot Boyer-Dry was one of the first guests:
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Every detail here was inspired by Edward Hopper’s 1957 painting “Western Motel,” which has been brought to vibrant, three-dimensional life. The only thing missing is the mysterious woman whose burgundy dress matches the bedspread. But that’s where the museum guest comes in.
I was the second person to stay in the museum’s Hopper hotel room, essentially becoming its subject for a night. (Before it sold out through February, the room cost anywhere from $150 a night to $500 for a package, including dinner, mini golf and a tour with the curator.) My time there was short — a standard stay runs from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. — and awkward. I had traveled all day to reach Richmond, and these pristinely basic quarters were the main event. Ultimately, it reminded me of every other hotel room I’ve ever stayed in...
Ellen Chapman, a Richmond resident who stayed the night before I did, was more focused on the novelty of an art overnight. “I’ve always had that childhood fantasy of spending the night in a museum,” she said. “The remarkable part for me was waking up, drinking my coffee and looking at this amazing exhibit right next to me.”
I wrote about The 49 Boxes in 2015, describing it as a magical participatory experience that combines art, puzzles, story, music — and so much more. Actor and magician Neil Patrick Harris recently experienced it and said, “The 49 Boxes blew my mind. And that’s not easy to do.”
Michael Borys, the creator says, "The 49 Boxes is a social, story-driven experience where audiences interact with incredible artifacts to solve mysteries that have been kept secret for more than half a century. This isn't an experience that happens around you… it happens because of you."
If you're near Los Angeles on March 24 or 31, I highly recommend that you get tickets. It will be held at the Black Rabbit Rose in downtown Los Angeles.
Here's what I wrote after I experienced The 49 Boxes for the first time (when it was at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California):
A very, very long table in the front of the room was laden with beautiful, antique boxes. Each box was tagged from the Riverside Historical Museum. At the very center of the collection was a single, large box covered in locks. Quickly, the room began to fill, and soon 75 or so relative strangers were seated. We were told the beginning of a story that took place at the hotel over the course of half a century. The participants could only learn the rest by working together with what they found in the boxes.
Every tagged box is an individual work of art and its contents are no less precious. Read the rest
On the left is a picture of me with my bike, taken by my friend Laura Kling. On the right is the same image, as it would be seen by a person with protanopia — a relatively common (as in, still very rare) form of color blindness that affects the ability to see green, yellow, and red colors.
The Color Blindness Simulator will allow you to do this with your own photos. Read the rest
At one point — I think it was about halfway through climbing the twisting warren of dark staircases and pipe organ parts that leads to the top of the 10-story slide — I turned to my husband and asked, incredulous, "Why the hell wasn't this place in American Gods?"
Opened in an abandoned shoe factory and warehouse in downtown St. Louis in 1997, The City Museum is not so much a museum as it is a massive, rambling fantasy playground. From the rooftop to the strange subterranean tunnels built beneath the lobby floor, sculptor Bob Cassilly and a team of 20 artisans have, bit by bit, created something truly wonderful. Imagine what might happen if somebody turned Maker Faire into a full-scale amusement park. That's The City Museum.
There's a 1940s ferris wheel creaking and groaning its way through a glorious, rooftop view of the city. There's a human gerbil trail that winds around the first floor ceiling, providing great spots to check out the intricate tile mosaic fish that swim across the floor. There are columns covered in gears, and columns covered in old printing press plates. There's a giant ball pit; two gutted airplanes suspended in midair; and so many chutes, and slides, and tunnels that, by the time you walk back to your car you will find yourself thoroughly conditioned into reflexively contorting yourself into every dark hole you happen to see. Also, there are bars. Also, there is almost entirely zero supervision. Read the rest