With self-improvement front and center on many New Year’s resolution lists and many families beginning vacation planning for the year, this month is a fitting time to add the Makeup Museum to a New York City to-do list. Although it won’t open until May, it is sure to be a hot ticket when the doors open; the waitlist for tickets goes live in March.
Celebrity makeup artist Rachel Goodwin, former makeup.com editor Caitlin Collins and museum director Doreen Bloch (CEO of beauty research company Poshly, Inc.) partnered with established beauty industry advisors to ensure the museum would not be just another pretty face amid small specialty and niche museums.
Even though products of all description will be on display, don’t expect an oversized drugstore or department store cosmetics department. The museum promises a seamless blend of pop culture history (extending back through the centuries), illustrating the aesthetics and values of different eras, along with stunning photography and beauty industry milestones. Even with the glossy setting and obvious appeal to style-conscious people, it digs deeper to reveal how makeup and grooming products for women and men became part our daily lives and other industries, from entertainment to finance.
The museum will open its doors at a “semi-permanent location” at 94 Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District with “The Pink Jungle: 1950s Makeup in America,” which will cover the entrepreneurs, icons and artifacts that defined the decade’s beauty standards. Luxury beauty brand Erno Laszlo and makeup purveyor Alcone are founding sponsors of the exhibition and will play a special role in presenting never before seen in public elements of makeup history, such as Erno Laszlo’s collection of facial products used by Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo.
The exhibit will make its way to museums in other cities around the country and the world as the year progresses.
So why open the museum with the 1950s? According to its founders, the 1950s was a pivotal decade in the history of America and the birth of the makeup industry as people know it today. Hollywood stars not only brought the public into theaters, but also enticed consumers to aspire to everyday glamour. Cosmetics entrepreneurs like Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, Max Factor, Charles Revson, Erno Laszlo, the Westmores, Sally Hansen and others made that dream available to more people than ever before. The backstories behind such looks as the cat eye, bold red lips and other iconic makeup looks from the decade will be spelled out in a fascinating light beyond the surface.
Speaking of which, there’s “Permanent Make-Up” in the process of being applied as the Makeup Museum is building out its core collection. It will incorporate diverse pieces from around the world and across the 10,000 years of makeup history. In the months ahead, it will announce key new acquisitions, such as a Qingbai cosmetic box from the Chinese Northern Song Dynasty. As the collection grows, there will be entire rooms and displays dedicated to time periods in makeup history, as well as theme-based exhibitions presenting artifacts and ephemera from diverse time periods.
Ticket prices will range $25–40 per ticket, depending on time of day and day of week, with opportunities for add-on classes and beauty services.
The gift shop will feature eye-catching and vintage-inspired makeup products, collections and kits and other beauty-oriented gifts. If you or a family member inherited a significant piece of makeup history from a relative, it’s worth noting the museum is accepting loans and donations of products, art, ephemera, memorabilia or historical artifacts from the beauty community.
There is also a Makeup Museum mobile app (on Android and Apple iOS) where visitors can register for events and purchase express tickets, preview exhibitions virtually, see exclusive digital content, contribute their own photos and videos that can be displayed, answer fellow visitors’ questions about makeup and shop the looks on display at the Makeup Museum shop.
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