Behind the scenes, Exhibition

Birds of Paradise at The Bowes museum


It’s really nice to see an exhibition you curated traveling to a completely different setting and getting a new life after it finishes at MoMu. Yesterday we opened the Birds of Paradise: plumes and feathers in fashion exhibition at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, North England, a magnificent castle previously inhabited by John & Josephine Bowes, who left their impressive art collection to the public. Here’s some pictures of the castle by day and by night, and the MoMu crew (the director, conservator and exhibitions manager) arriving at the castle.


The Bowes Museum’s symbol is a swan, which is a great match with the feathers exhibition, so a swan in a cabinet welcomed us at the entrance to the exhibition.


We were also treated to swan meringues with fresh cream. English people really know how to treat the Belgian appetite.


We also felt at home because the first artwork you see in the museum is from the temporary exhibition by renowned British artist Julian Opie, clearly resembles our national symbol.


The reception with speeches was attended by many interesting people.


Then we finally arrived at the entrance to the exhibition, where our beloved chimera dress by Thierry Mugler welcomed us from a rococo cabinet. A little further we saw the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers feather silhouettes by Dries Van Noten loafing about in the Bowes’ collection.


People really loved the white swan section of the exhibition.


I was glad to see a special honorable place reserved for Ann Demeulemeester’s feather pieces and Olivier Theyskens for Rochas feather dress.


The location was very different from the white space at MoMu but it worked so well with the feathers. Visitors seemed keen on discovering more about the pieces. The whole time we were pampered by Joanna Hashagen, curator of the Fashion & Textiles collection, and her team, here you see her with our director Kaat Debo at the dinner party.


But the most special, mesmerizing and spectacular gift she treated us to, was a performance by the silver swan automaton from 1781, the highlight of the permanent Bowes art collection. It’s one of the most hypnotic, uncanny and beautiful things I’ve ever seen in a museum.


This finale was a beautiful apotheosis and Swanlake-worthy goodbye after our short visit. We wish Birds of Paradise @ Bowes Museum a happy life ever after!!