In the shelves of museum shops, they joined magnets, umbrellas, pencil cases and notebooks. New products derived from the collections, the masks appeal to visitors wishing to protect themselves from the coronavirus … while displaying a work of art on their face.
So this visitor to the National Gallery in London, left with a mask reproducing the Sunflowers the Van Gogh.
Or that other emblazoned with the Still life of flowers in a Wan-Li vase, the Bosschaert.
Yumi Nakajima, sales clerk in the London museum shop, explains to the New York Times that masks have been among the best sellers since July 8, when the institution reopened. Without being compulsory, wearing a mask is strongly recommended within the museum.
The Met opts for Les Nymphéas
Across the Atlantic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York already sells four masks online, featuring Impressionist paintings – including Les Nymphéas by Claude Monet – and scenes from New York life. The range should expand by the end of August, when the museum reopens.
Leanne Graeff, one of the head of derivative products, explains that the sales of masks are the source of the cash flow that museums, bloodless after several times of closure, badly need. For visitors, they are a simple way to support institutions.
Thanks to the proceeds from the sale of the masks, we were able to pay our bills
Baris Alakus, director of Villa Klimt, in Vienna
One of the museums with the most successful masks is Villa Klimt in Vienna. Closed in March when Austria was confined, the museum quickly needed funds. “We are a private museum so we do not benefit from any public support. The situation was very critical», Confides to New York Times director Baris Alakus.
Again, the mask is a godsend. The museum, which reopened in May, has sold 6,000 to date, at 20 euros each. “Thanks to the proceeds from the sale of the masks, we were able to pay our bills», He explains.
“A bit of humour”
The Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam, for its part collaborated with an association to develop its masks, on which – a strange fact – appears a self-portrait of Rembrandt, eyes wide. “Since this is a mask to put on her face, we wanted there to be a face on it. Even if it means wearing it, you might as well show a little humor», Explains Philine Hofman, director of the museum shop.
French museums have not yet followed this new fashion, but perhaps we will soon be able to superimpose the face of Mona Lisa on his.
Also to see – Graffiti artist Banksy posts mask-wearing video