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Musée en scène

10/04/2008 - par Mark Tungate

Of all the alternative media I've scribbled about in this column, it has never occurred to me to consider museum exhibits. That was until two recent visits : first to the Véronique Branquinho exhibition at the Mode Museum in Antwerp (or MoMu, as it's called) ; and then to the Marie-Antoinette show at the Grand Palais here in Paris.

Once upon a time, museum exhibits were static displays that could make little claim to being interactive, let alone media. But the Branquinho show - exploring the work of this mysterious Belgian fashion designer - includes video walls, film clips, lighting effects, and a short story broadcast through headphones. The highlight is a full-scale recreation of the Red Room from David Lynch's cult TV series Twin Peaks. It's basically a jukebox isolated in the middle of small space whose walls are red velvet curtains. Walking through the exhibition is like taking a stroll through the designer's inspirations.

Meanwhile, the Marie-Antoinette show was created not by a museum exhibit designer, but by an opera director called Robert Carsen. Inevitably, the queen's life becomes an opera in three acts. These are colour-coded : burgundy for youth, Sèvres blue for royalty, and black for the tragic end. Birds sing during the scenes set in the Trianon, and Marie-Antoinette's fate is represented by a shattered mirror. In a world where information is freely available electronically, this is no doubt the best route museums can take : turn facts into theatre.

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Musée en scène

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