An exhibition curated by director Wes Anderson and his partner, illustrator, designer and author Juman Malouf, will open at Milan’s Prada Foundation this month. Titled Il sarcofago di Spitzmaus e altri tesori which translates as Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures, was originally presented at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, closing in April 2019. The second iteration of the show will bring the original layout of rooms and vitrines (designed together with Margula Architects) and extend the exhibition with further items inspired by Italian gardens “with the presence of elements evoking hedges and allegorical pavilions typical of Renaissance garden,” says the foundation in a statement.
The exhibition features a whopping 537 artworks including objects hand-picked by Anderson and Malouf from the Kunsthistorisches Museum collections and the Naturhistorisches Museum, also in Vienna. Spanning a huge time frame from 3,000 BC to 2018, the pieces come together under the concept of a Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Curiosities. It explores the reasoning behind the creation of museum collections, challenging traditions in how they are housed, presented and experienced. As such, the curatorial duo has chosen items from a non-academic point of view, presenting pieces in interdisciplinary categorical groups such as green objects, portraits of children or nobleman and common-people, miniatures, timepieces, boxes, wooden objects and animals presented as scientific exhibits or artistic depictions.
The show takes its name from one particular item, the Coffin of a Spitzmaus, an Egyptian wooden box with a mummified shrew from the 4th Century BC.
In conjunction with the show, the Prada Foundation is publishing an artist’s book featuring an introduction by Wes Anderson, which takes the form of a box or treasure chest – referencing the idea of the Cabinet of Curiosities – including drawings, reproductions and other ephemera. The book/box “elaborates on the idea of a portable museum and personal collection”, says the foundation, and takes inspiration from Marcel Duchamp’s La Boîte-en-Valise (Box in a suitcase). It also features a description of the exhibition through the words of Anderson, Malouf, Jasper Sharp and Jason Schwartzman.
Il sarcofago di Spitzmaus e altri tesori opens from 20 September 2019 – 13 January 2020 at Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy.