You Can Sleep in an Edward Hopper Painting at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Is This the Next New Museum Trend?

Let’s pre­tend our Fairy Art Moth­er is grant­i­ng one wish—to spend the night inside the paint­ing of your choice.

What paint­ing will we each choose, and why?

Will you sleep out in the open, undis­turbed by lions, a la Rousseau’s The Sleep­ing Gyp­sy?

Or expe­ri­ence the volup­tuous dreams of Fred­er­ic Leighton’s Flam­ing June?

Paul Gauguin’s por­trait of his son, Clo­vis presents a tan­ta­liz­ing prospect for those of us who haven’t slept like a baby in decades…

The Night­mare by Herny Fuseli should chime with Goth­ic sen­si­bil­i­ties…

And it’s a fair­ly safe bet that some of us will select Edward Hop­per’s West­ern Motel, at the top of this post, if only because we heard the Vir­ginia Muse­um of Fine Arts was accept­ing dou­ble occu­pan­cy book­ings for an extreme­ly faith­ful fac­sim­i­le, as part of its Edward Hop­per and the Amer­i­can Hotel exhi­bi­tion.

Alas, if unsur­pris­ing­ly, the Hop­per Hotel Expe­ri­ence, with mini golf and a curat­ed tour, sold out quick­ly, with prices rang­ing from $150 to $500 for an off-hours stay.

Tick­et-hold­ing vis­i­tors can still peer in at the room any time the exhib­it is open to the pub­lic, but it’s after hours when the Insta­gram­ming kicks into high gear.

What guest could resist the temp­ta­tion to strike a pose amid the vin­tage lug­gage and (blue­tooth-enabled) wood pan­eled radio, fill­ing in for the 1957 painting’s lone fig­ure, an icon­ic Hop­per woman in a bur­gundy dress?

The Art Insti­tute of Chica­go notes that she is sin­gu­lar among Hopper’s sub­jects, in that she appears to be gaz­ing direct­ly at the view­er.

But as per the Yale Uni­ver­si­ty Art Gallery, from which West­ern Motel is on loan:

The woman star­ing across the room does not seem to see us; the pen­sive­ness of her stare and her tense pos­ture accen­tu­ate the sense of some impend­ing event. She appears to be wait­ing: the lug­gage is packed, the room is devoid of per­son­al objects, the bed is made, and a car is parked out­side the win­dow.

Hope­ful­ly, those lucky enough to have secured a book­ing will have per­fect­ed the pose in the mir­ror at home pri­or to arrival. This “motel” is a bit of a stage set, in that guests must leave the paint­ing to access the pub­lic bath­room that con­sti­tutes the facil­i­ties.

(No word on whether the theme extends to a paper “san­i­tized for your pro­tec­tion” band across the toi­let, but there’s no show­er and a secu­ri­ty offi­cer is sta­tioned out­side the room for the dura­tion of each stay.)

The pop­u­lar­i­ty of this once-in-a-life­time exhib­it tie-in may spark oth­er muse­ums to fol­low suit.

The Art Insti­tute of Chica­go start­ed the trend in 2016 with a painstak­ing recre­ation of Vin­cent Van Gogh’s room at Arles, which it list­ed on Air BnB for $10/night.

Think of all the fun we could have if the bed­rooms of art his­to­ry opened to us…

Dog lovers could get cozy in Andrew Wyeth’s Mas­ter Bed­room.

Delacroix’s The Death of Sar­dana­palus (1827) would require some­thing more than dou­ble occu­pan­cy for prop­er Insta­gram­ming.

Piero del­la Francesca’s The Dream of Con­stan­tine might elic­it impres­sive mes­sages from the sub-con­science

Tuber­cu­lo­sis noth­with­stand­ing, Aubrey Beardsley’s Self Por­trait in Bed is rife with pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Or skip the cul­tur­al fore­play and head straight for the NSFW plea­sures of The French Bed, a la Rembrandt’s etch­ing.

Edward Hop­per and the Amer­i­can Hotel will be trav­el­ing to the Indi­anapo­lis Muse­um of Art at New­fields in June 2020.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a Jour­ney Inside Vin­cent Van Gogh’s Paint­ings with a New Dig­i­tal Exhi­bi­tion

How Edward Hop­per “Sto­ry­board­ed” His Icon­ic Paint­ing Nighthawks

60-Sec­ond Intro­duc­tions to 12 Ground­break­ing Artists: Matisse, Dalí, Duchamp, Hop­per, Pol­lock, Rothko & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Decem­ber 9 when her month­ly book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain cel­e­brates Dennison’s Christ­mas Book (1921). Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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