A current exhibit at the Dutch art haven Kunsthal Rotterdam is taking a jab at the attention deficit disorder in all of us. The museum has installed treadmills in front of some of its most famous paintings, turning the serene (but often short-lived) art viewing experience into an unforgettable experience in multitasking.
The exhibit, titled "Museum Minutes," pokes fun at the fact that museum patrons can spend the equivalent of an elongated yawn while glancing at a work of art that took years to make. By stationing treadmills in front of the paintings, the Kunsthall is mimicking the practice of many indoor exercisers who watch TV while burning calories. With the addition of a timer placed above the paintings, a brisk glance at a painting turns into a measured act of physical activity, all in the name of art.
According to the press release, the museum wants to spark "debate about the degree to which we're willing to prioritize culture." Well, if that fails, we imagine the exhibit would be a great model for the boutique exercise industry.
For more on the woes of art-induced boredom, check out this article by The Onion, which perfectly summarizes the combination of shame and indifference one might experience while ogling a masterpiece. And in honor of the mixed media exhibit at the Kunsthal, scroll down for a slideshow of best cinematic moments that took place in an art museum.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The chemistry between Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant is irresistible in this film, particularly in the scene where Grant's paleontologist character tries to tell Hepburn about her exposed backside in, where else, a museum. And who doesn't love Hepburn's pet leopard, "Baby"? "When a man is wrestling a leopard in the middle of a pond, he's in no position to run."
When Jimmy Stewart roams through the halls of the art museum in "Vertigo," only to stumble upon Madeleine, Kim Novak's character, staring hauntingly at an old painting, you know you're watching a moment of cinematic genius. "You want to know something? I don't think Mozart's going to help at all."
Play it Again, Sam (1972)
A slideshow of memorable museum scenes would not be complete with just one Woody Allen reference. Here the dry New Yorker gives us a taste of "depressed museum girl." "It restates the negativeness of the universe, the hideous, lonely emptiness of existence, nothingness, the predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void of nothing but waste, horror, degradation, forming a useless, bleak straight jacket in a black, absurd cosmos."
Mary (Diane Keaton) uses the words "derivative," "textural," "integrated," and "negative capability" all while standing in the halls of the Guggenheim Museum. What else could we expect from Woody Allen and his spot-on impressions of pretentious art patrons. "Really, you liked that?"
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Hopper, Picasso, Pollock, Cassat -- they all have cameo appearances in this iconic museum scene from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." But of course, the part we love most is when Cameron's existential crisis plays out in an intense staring contest with pointilist masterpiece, "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," by Georges Seurat. *Witty internal monologue communicated only through blinks*
Ghostbusters II (1989)
The scene where Peter Venkman hosts a photo shoot with Vigo the Cruel -- also known as Vigo the Torturer, Vigo the Despised, and Vigo the Unholy -- is Ghostbusters at its finest. And it all takes place in the restoration department of a museum. "Wasn't he also Vigo the Butch?"
While you might be of the opinion that "Batman Returns" is the superior caped crusader incarnation, we bet you can still enjoy this scene from the first Tim Burton chapter, where the Joker wreaks havoc on a museum filled with works by Edgar Degas and Gilbert Stuart. Added bonus: it's set to Prince's "Partyman." "Let's broaden our minds. Prince?"
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
Not only does this scene from The Thomas Crown Affair occur in a museum -- he's trying to return a stolen Monet, after all -- but the whole thing is inspired by one of Rene Magritte's paintings, "The Son of Man." Spoiler alert: there are lots of bowler hats. "Let's play ball."
Russian Ark (2002)
The entirety of "Russian Ark" takes place in the Russian State Hermitage Museum. Filmed as one uninterrupted, 90-minute long shot (the longest in movie history), viewers are shown 300 years of Russian history as the camera roams across 33 rooms and 2,000 actors. You can actually watch the whole of Alexander Sokurov's masterpiece on YouTube. "I open my eyes and I see nothing."
The International (2002)
What starts out as a placid scene at the Guggenheim soon turns into very violent kill-fest, so don't say we didn't warn you. "When there's no way out, you find a deeper way in."
"Museum Minutes" is on view at the Kunsthal Rotterdam till January 13, 2013.
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