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Bedding down at the Louvre – and other nights at the museum

12 April 2019

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

From the Paddington Bear movie to Friends, the idea of hitting a museum after dark clearly holds a powerful pull for scriptwriters – as it does for Ben Stiller, star of a certain after-hours museum flick that inspired not one but two sequels.

As in art, so in life: as Artnet reports, the Louvre and Airbnb have partnered up to offer the winners of a competition the chance to spend a whole night at the museum. The gimmick marks the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Pyramid, a miniature version of which will provide the sleeping quarters for the two lucky winners.

The isn’t the first time a museum has staged a sleepover, however. Last year, the Rijksmuseum allowed one devotee the chance to spend the night kipping beside Rembrandt’s Night Watch; and in 2016, the Art Institute of Chicago – again with a hand from Airbnb – recreated Van Gogh’s bedroom, renting it out for as little as $10 a night.

And then there is Carsten Höller. One of the German artist’s installations consists of a full hotel room – complete with Queen-sized bed – set up in a gallery for the use of visitors. When it was displayed at the Guggenheim in 2008 as part of ‘theanyspacewhatever’, an exhibition on Relational Aesthetics, the critic Jerry Saltz took up the invitation to settle down and take 40 winks. The experience was nothing if not peculiar.

‘As I lay there, I heard strange sounds – fans whirring, echoes reverberating. I couldn’t sleep, despite earplugs and an eye mask,’ he wrote in New York Magazine. ‘The next week, when I returned to the show by day, I noticed that when I passed by the bed where I spent that night, I was filled with tender feelings. It was like walking in a city and looking up at a window in a building and remembering a long-ago night when you’d had sex there. Weirdly, however, I was also filled with something like jealousy. I felt like “my museum” was sleeping with everyone else. I found myself wondering why the Guggenheim hadn’t called the next day.’

Louvre lovers: you have been warned.

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