Calling all beauty fans, this museum experience is just for you. New York City is getting the first-ever museum dedicated to all things makeup next spring. The Meatpacking District museum will give an immersive experience into the history of makeup—a history that goes back over 10,000 years, to be exact.
The museum will show its first exhibit, called Pink Jungle, about the role of makeup in the 1950’s. It will be located in the historic Meatpacking District on Gansevoort Street. The area, once a grimy underbelly of lower Manhattan, is now a trendy boutique fashion area known for its night life, repurposed warehouse spaces, and the sound of stiletto heels clinking through cobblestone streets.
It’s one of the most glamorous areas of the city these days, making it the perfect spot for a museum dedicated to makeup—one of the most glamorous things to ever exist. Starting with how makeup earned its role in modern culture, the museum will take a look at how ancient cultures used (much older) forms of the products we still use today and why.
Makeup’s Expansive History
Throughout the course of the exhibit, attendees will be able to look at history through the eyes of the products that many use every day. Art museums explore history through art, natural history museums through science, and war museums through the wars that define the world, but never before has a museum looked through the eyes of the makeup products we use every day.
Interestingly enough, makeup has a unique and rich history in all parts of the world. In Japan, Geisha and Kabuki makeup was traditionally used by women to enhance their features, particularly in entertainment positions (though many are misled that Geisha makeup is solely affiliated with prostitution).
The Science of Makeup
In other parts of the world, like Ancient Rome, makeup was used by the wealthy in daily life as well as part of ritual events. But makeup back then was much different, and the ingredients used in the products were often dangerous. Lead, a known toxin today, was once sought after as a beauty product.
While that may sound gross, consider that even today some beauty products are still made with questionable ingredients. For example, many red lipsticks and eyeshadows are made from the Cochineal bug—but don’t worry, it’s harmless. The red pigment from the ground up bugs (yes, bugs!) is unlike any other, and makes a great addition to red-hued products like blush and lipstick.
But you can learn all about this when the museum opens up next May! The current space for the museum is temporary, but the company is seeking an even bigger retail space to move the museum to as a permanent fixture.