Pop Culture Is Breathing New Life Into Stuffy Museums

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.
On Saturday, Jay-Z and Beyoncé dropped a collaborative album titled Everything Is Love, which included a music video for their song "APESHIT." (The title of the song describes how fans went upon learning of the surprise album.) Pretty much anything the Carters made would get a seal of approval, but this Bey and Jay video venture was particularly iconic — because they filmed the thing in the Lourve.
The museum may be the home of the Mona Lisa, but now, visitors can be just as excited to see the place where the Carters performed their surprise track.
Does "APESHIT" prove that museums are officially having a pop culture moment? Maybe. But it's less about the fact that museums are popping up in pop culture and more about how they are viewed when they do.
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In "APESHIT," Jay-Z and Beyoncé are a part of the art. The couple and their backup dancers essentially create performance art while standing in front of still lifes and portraits.
The video's release comes on the heels of the release of Ocean's 8, a movie about a heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In Ocean's 8, the criminals pluck European jewels from their eternal resting place, disrupting the idea that everything within the Met is unmovable and sacred. The "very special" jewelry in the museum's collection is replaced with fakes, the art ends up in the observers hands, and no one is the wiser.
Ryan Murphy's new FX series Pose opens with a similar feat, when the House of Abundance robs an unnamed museum so that they can wear the costumes during one of their balls.
Lorde's song "Louvre," from her 2017 album Melodrama, also talks about taking up space in a museum: "But we're the greatest," she sings on the track. "They'll hang us in the Louvre." (A Lorde fan then literally hung the album Melodrama in the Louvre.)
Museums have long been for the admirer: You look, but you don't touch. But today, there's a certain intimacy around art, thanks, in part, to social media giving us intimate access into the lives of the artists that we admire. Perhaps that's why we're seeing so much museum disruption in pop culture. The idea of being an arm's length away from art just doesn't compute any more.
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