New York City proves that it remains to be America’s cultural hub with the opening of the world’s first Makeup Museum. Beauty, and more specifically makeup, have been a part of society for thousands of years, so we do wonder – why has no one thought up this idea before? While the initial opening of the museum was delayed due to the coronavirus, the 3,500-square foot space has officially opened its doors September 1st at 94 Gansevoort Street – proving that the city is recovering and very much alive. Before you go, make sure to reserve your ticket and schedule a visit on their website. Don’t forget to explore the rest of the meatpacking district afterwards.
Let’s talk makeup. Makeup is so much more than tangible objects and what the eye sees. Makeup is heritage, resilience, nostalgia, strength, folklore, art, and so much more. Makeup artifacts can tells us more about what was considered beautiful, past inventions, and societal thinking. It was about time someone paid homage to makeup and its purpose. The museum opened with an exhibit that focuses on 1950s Makeup In America and impactful history that led up to the glamorous decade. The museum even gives us an insider look at Marilyn Monroe’s skincare prescription from Erno Laszlo and a digital archive of Kevyn Aucoin’s private journals.
Makeup Museum Co-Founder & Executive Director, Doreen Bloch, gives us details on the opening and what to expect during your visit.
Cultivated: How was the original idea for The Makeup Museum born and why New York?
DB: The Makeup Museum brings together an incredible team of co-founders and beauty industry mavens, including former editor of Makeup.com Caitlin Collins and Celebrity Makeup Artist Rachel. We saw an opportunity to create a space focused on beauty history as a way to educate, celebrate and inspire beauty lovers globally. The Makeup Museum’s flagship location is in New York City because the city is world-recognized for its cultural institutions and beauty industry landscape.
Cultivated: How has the coronavirus shifted the way exhibits get displayed, handled and promoted?
The Makeup Museum was expected to open on May 1, 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic impacted not only the opening date, but also the entire layout of the exhibition. The Makeup Museum’s team went back to a blank slate to reimagine and restructure the format of the debut exhibition
“Pink Jungle: 1950s Makeup in America” opting for an entirely hands-free and touchless experience for visitors. Safety and wellness is the top priority for the Makeup Museum to ensure staff and visitor health, and since opening one week ago, the Makeup Museum has received 5-star reviews for the exhibition layout, safety protocols, and content, creating a new gold standard for how to engage visitors in an analog exhibition structure.
Cultivated: What are some of the oldest artifacts the museum has on displays right now, or is holding for future exhibitions? Can you tell us where they were obtained (especially the never-before-seen artifacts)?
DB: The Makeup Museum’s oldest artifact in the collection is a 5,000-year-old Kohl cosmetics jar from Ancient Egypt. It is on display currently as part of our Pink Jungle exhibition in an installation focused on the evolution of eye makeup from 5,000 years ago through the 1950s. It is an exceptional piece, and we are so thrilled to showcase it to visitors up close and personal as part of the exhibition experience. The Makeup Museum’s collection is growing rapidly through direct acquisitions as well as loans from individuals and corporate brand archives.
Cultivated: What creates the most excitement or draws the most attention?
DB: There are so many fascinating artifacts on display at the Makeup Museum, and one of the most popular on display right now in “Pink Jungle” is the set of items in the Erno Laszlo Gallery, focused on the legacy of Dr. Erno Laszlo who treated the skin of Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy and more. In the gallery, visitors can see the actual skincare bottles that Monroe and Garbo used, and they can see the full and customized skincare prescriptions for these 1950s superstar icons. It is extremely unique to behold these beauty history gems.
Cultivated: What should visitors take away from viewing the 1950s Makeup In America exhibition?
DB: 1950s beauty is often viewed in a very nostalgic and romanticized way, and the Makeup Museum is showcasing a more holistic and complex view of this beauty history. The exhibition addresses challenges with inclusivity in this era, and the legacy of the American beauty standard that was created at this time. The curators developed an exhibition that truly allows visitors to explore and ponder the impact of 1950s beauty in a groundbreaking way.
Cultivated: Anything the public should know before visiting?
DB: The health and safety of our visitors and staff are the highest priority that we have at the Makeup Museum. We have comprehensive protocols in place to ensure a safe and inclusive environment. We do have reduced visitor capacity, with timed tickets required (which can be reserved at https://www.showclix.com/tickets/pinkjungle), and temperature checks are required at the door. Physical distancing and indoor mask usage is required, and we also have regular cleaning and HEPA air filtration ongoing. We look forward to welcoming beauty lovers to the Makeup Museum, and thank everyone in advance for helping us to keep visitors and staff safe.