chapter  9
12 Pages

Illuminating narratives: period rooms and tableaux vivants

In 2004, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York organised an exhibition entitled Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century, curated by Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton. The exhibition took place in the Museum’s Fifth Avenue building from 29 April to 6 September 2004, within a suite of period rooms. It was not only a presentation of decorated spaces but was, moreover, a spectacular display of costumes in dynamic interaction with their furnished surroundings. The exhibition showcased costumed mannequins posed in accordance with the norms of eighteenth century demeanour. Because of its presentation techniques and its ability to instruct viewers about eighteenth century social practices, the exhibition occupies a significant position at the intersection of theatricality and didactic display.