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The Makeup Museum Opens in New York

After months of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, the museum finally opened this morning in New York.

After five months of delays, the cofounders of the Makeup Museum discovered they were eligible to reopen — from a tweet.

“To be completely honest, [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo tweeted,” Makeup Museum cofounder Caitlin Collins said Tuesday morning at the museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We took a moment to see if we could pull this off, and it was a very short timeline.”

The museum, which was slated to open on Gansevoort Street in New York on May 1, had its opening delayed and its exhibition completely rethought. The museum opened with its inaugural exhibit, “Pink Jungle: 1950s Makeup in America,” and got a hands-free makeover ahead of the ribbon cutting.

“The exhibit planned for May 1 was much more interactive than what you’re going to see,” Collins said. “We did not know if and when we’d be able to open in 2020, and since then, we’ve had a lot of digital executions, such as ‘Generations of Beauty,’” she said, referring to its social media campaign tied to the exhibit.

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At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, masks were mandatory, and temperatures were taken with a no-contact thermometer at the door. Tickets are available for select time slots online, and the museum is operating only every other hour to clean between visits and allow air to recirculate through the space. “The safety of the staff and visitors is top priority,” Collins said.

The exhibition, which contains artifacts like Marilyn Monroe’s personal products from Erno Laszlo and artifacts from ancient Rome and Greece, also highlights entrepreneurs and advertisements of the era. In a post-coronavirus world, Collins thinks the exhibit will resonate just as much as before.

“If you look decade to decade, icons change, products change, tools change,” Collins said. “What doesn’t change is the ability of makeup to connect. Whether it’s the Fifties, or any decade, or today, that community is always present. Yes, it’s a different world and yes, the exhibit’s been reimagined, but our mission to educate and inspire has remained the same.”

In fact, the museum is already working on a new exhibit. Although the situation with museum reopenings is touch-and-go, Collins said, the cofounders are following the museum’s original model of one six-month exhibit at a time. “We haven’t pinned it down yet, but ideas are plentiful,” Collins said. “It seems likely it could be another decade, but it might explore a category, or a color, or a texture. There’s endless possibilities and no shortage of cool ideas.”

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