The Makeup Museum, opening on May 1 in Manhattan, isn’t just another pretty face.
The 3,500-square-foot space at 94 Gansevoort Street will delve beneath the surface of the glossy industry, revealing the backstories of key figures and highlighting pivotal moments in the history of the beauty business.
Niche museums such as the Museum of Ice Cream and Sloomoo Institute, a museum dedicated to the squishy, oozy material created by Mattel, allow visitors to explore in depth a topic they’re passionate about, and have drawn large crowds.
The Makeup Museum is angling to break into that category. Its inaugural exhibition, “Pink Jungle: 1950s Makeup in America,” will home in on the glamorous era. “It’s such a perfect decade to start with,” said Doreen Bloch, the museum’s cofounder, and chief executive officer of Poshly, a beauty research company. “There were all these amazing inventions, like automatic mascara and long-wearing lipsticks. There’s nostalgia for the cat eye, and other looks of the times.”
Nordstrom Inc. will merchandise the gift shop as the museum’s exclusive retail partner, providing a selection of Fifties-inspired items as visitors make their way out of the exhibit. There will be products to create the perfect cat eye, red-carpet essentials, iconic fragrances, red lipsticks, tote bags, compact mirrors, and other items with exclusive Makeup Museum designs.
Nordstrom at its New York, Chicago and Los Angeles flagships will feature displays of The Makeup Museum — which bills itself as the first of its kind in the world — and the museum’s mobile app and web site will allow consumers to click-to-shop Nordstrom’s web site for exhibition-themed products.
The Makeup Museum mobile app and web site will allow customers to click-to-shop on the Nordstrom web site for artifact-inspired finds.
A maker’s exhibit will highlight 10 entrepreneurs from the Fifties, including Estée Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Max Factor, Hollywood makeup artists and hairstylists the Westmores, Helena Rubinstein, Hazel Bishop, Erno Lazlo, Thomas Lyle Williams of Maybelline, Merle Norman and Charles Revson.
“You see the strong sexualization of women in advertising in the Fifties,” Bloch said. “[Revlon founder Charles] Revson was behind that. You look at the ads and think about how far we’ve come, or maybe we haven’t come far enough. We’re going to enlighten visitors.”
The museum has collected artifacts such as Max Factor‘s 1959 Creme Puff compact, Erno Laszlo creams, and treatments from Marilyn Monroe’s personal collection, which will be on display.
“With 10,000 years of history, and the societal impact makeup has on all of us, how is it possible that we don’t have a permanent space dedicated to this topic?,” Bloch said. “We’ll provide visitors a historical lens into consumers of different eras.”
Tickets, which go on sale March 1, range in price from $25 to $40, depending on the time of day.