In 2012, Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum began a series that would invite international artists into the museum’s archives to curate unique exhibitions. Thus far, American pop artist Ed Ruscha, who curated the inaugural exhibition in 2012, and potter Edmund de Waal, invited in 2016, have had the exciting, yet potentially overwhelming opportunity.
2018 will bring an exciting duo with unmistakable flair to the Kunsthistorisches. This year, director Wes Anderson and his partner, writer and costume designer Juman Malouf will have the opportunity to show their take on the museum’s vast collection. The exhibition titled ‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures’ (spitzmaus, by the way, translates more or less to shrew mouse if you’re curious like I was) is bound to excite.
From Houston, Texas, Anderson has become extremely recognizable for his cinematic themes and signature visual vocabulary prevalent in The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Verging on whimsical, the story-book like environments he creates utilizing vibrant colour schemes and enticing perspective are one of a kind. Notable actors like Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, and Willem Dafoe often grace the screen in Anderson’s films, as well. Malouf, born in Beirut, Lebanon and a graduate of Brown University, has illustrated and designed for the theatre, film, and fashion in both the United States and Europe. In 2015, her first novel, The Trilogy of Two, was published.
The pair’s debut as exhibition curators will be open for museum-goers on the 6th of November and if you are curious as to if the exhibition will feel like a Wes Anderson movie, the answer is yes…maybe. In regards to the theme of the exhibition, the museum has been particularly tight lipped concerning details.
In a video released by the museum, Curator Jasper Sharp promotes the exhibition stating it is ‘quite unlike anything we’ve [the museum] ever done.’ Sharp offers a brief list of the treasure Anderson and Malouf had access to at the museum from Egyptian mummies to Greek and Roman antiquities to Old Master paintings. However, Sharp coyly wraps up the video saying ‘what they’re going to do we’re not going to tell you just yet.’
There may be little to know about what will exactly be included in the exhibition, but a tantalizing trailer of sorts released for the exhibition leaves little doubt that Anderson’s touch will be everywhere. Images of objects from the Kunsthistorisches flash by in quick succession and perfectly timed to a hymn performed by the Muungano National Choir offering just enough of an Anderson-like tease.
Over two years, Anderson and Malouf have worked to combine over 400 objects for the exhibition that will, to reiterate Sharp’s point, be unlike anything every before seen at the museum. To simply add to the excitement and mystery around the exhibition, many of the selected objects have never been shown in public and will be making their debut in November as well.
‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures’ will run through 28 April 2019 before traveling to Italy to be exhibited in the Fondazione Prada, Milan. Until November, though, we will have to wait to see what Anderson and Malouf do with, as Sharp puts it, the museum’s ‘embarrassment of riches.’