MM summer 2017 exhibition


With some exhibitions I get a certain word or phrase caught in the old noggin.  This summer all I kept hearing in my head was "tropical fruit and sea creature EXPLOSION!"  As you may know, the husband designs all the exhibition posters and I literally asked him for that exact phrase.  How he came up with the poster from my sad little sketch is beyond me - it shows how truly talented he is, as he was able transform my awful drawing into the "explosion" I was after.  (I put "make it pop" on there purely as a joke.  If you've ever worked with a designer you know they loathe this useless cliché.)

Poster sketch

Anyway, fruit and sea creatures aren't unexpected choices for summer, but I feel as though this year was particularly, well, fruity and sea creature-centric.  As we'll see, it seems the recent fashion trend of putting pineapples, watermelon and the like on everything from jackets and dresses to a variety of accessories has carried over to the beauty world.  Sadly, I was not able to get my hands on the ultimate fruity items - the patterns on PaiPai's two most recent collections are positively bursting with tropical fruits - but what I do have is a decent mix.  Meanwhile, as I predicted, the mermaid beauty trend is going strong in 2017 as well so naturally I had to include a bunch of items to represent it.  While I've been including mermaid-themed and sea creature-adorned pieces for the past few summer exhibitions, this year I wanted to tie the two more closely together - it's a sort of celebration of the friendship between mermaids and the animals that share the ocean with them.  Mermaids aren't real, of course, but I love pretending they are, so part of the exhibition's purpose is to express the bonds they would have with seahorses, octopuses, etc.  When I was envisioning the exhibition I was putting myself in a mermaid's shoes (er, tail), so showing the animals I'd be hanging out with was my way of imagining a mermaid's perspective.  Overall, while the exhibition is very literal in that it displays items with fruit, mermaids and their assorted underwater pals on the packaging, it's nevertheless an admirable portrayal of the top trends this season...and also what exists in my mermaid-obsessed brain.

Makeup Museum summer 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum summer 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum summer 2017 exhibition

Top shelves, left to right.

I agonized for days over whether to display this palette by Saucebox open or closed.  Ultimately closed won out so you could see the mermaid, but you can see it open on my Instagram here.

Saucebox Mermaid Life palette

Oh, MAC Fruity Juicy - one of the most fun collections they've done in a while.  I purchased two more of the coconut setting spray so that I'd have some to actually use.  I don't think it does much, but between the vibrant packaging and yummy coconut scent it definitely perks me up in the mornings, as misting my face with setting spray is the last thing I do before dashing out the door to work.  It's the little things, right? 

MAC Fruity Juicy collection

MAC Oh My Passion pearlmatte powder

Exhibition label

I've been waiting with bated breath for Unicorn Lashes' mermaid brush set, but found out it won't be released till much later this summer so I had to settle for these.  I do like the company I ordered from as it offered a terrific variety of mermaid tail brushes, including this oh-so-evil/goth black set.  The larger brush is not the one I ordered - I'm still waiting for it to arrive (it's got glitter!), so I had to substitute the one that came free with the Saucebox palette.  Hopefully the one I wanted on display will get here soon.

Mermaid brushes

Mermaid brush

I forget how I stumbled across this...I think I was searching for vintage mermaid compacts.  I wasn't able to find any of the ones that appear in this ad, but at least I found the ad itself.  Still, these are compacts I'd pay a pretty penny for, as they're simply adorable.

Revlon She Shells ad, 1965

The vaguely threatening nature of the copy cracks me up:  "There won't be any more EVER".  I guess it's the predecessor of limited-edition scare tactics.  You know that if I were alive in 1965 I would have bought all 3 compacts right away so I didn't miss out - that line definitely would make me buy them immediately.

Revlon She Shells ad, 1965

While I was disappointed at not being able to track down any of the Revlon compacts, this vintage Stratton more than made up for it!  How awesome is this?!  I'm so happy to add a vintage mermaid compact to the Museum's collection.

Vintage Stratton compact

exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

The lovely Anna Sui summer collection:

Anna Sui summer 2017 makeup

Anna Sui summer 2017 makeup

exhibition label

These Chantecaille compacts remain among my favorites of the over 1,000 items in the Museum's collection.  I really should update my sad photos of them.

Chantecaille Protected Paradise compacts

Chantecaille Protected Paradise compacts

exhibition label

Tarte released more Lip Rescues this year.  I think I like the prints even more than last year's batch!

Tarte Quench Lip Rescues

I was overjoyed to see my favorite fruit embossed onto an eye shadow palette.  I don't know much about the Tanya Burr line, but this was too cute to pass up.

Tanya Burr My Paradise palette

Tanya Burr My Paradise palette

Third row, left to right.

It wouldn't be a proper Makeup Museum exhibition without some preciousness from Paul & Joe, would it?

Paul & Joe

Paul & Joe

Exhibition label

I found this brand on Instagram.  I adore all the illustrations on the packaging, which is recyclable and printed with soy ink, but was mildly disappointed in their customer service.  While my order arrived without incident, I'm bummed that I never received a reply to my email asking if they work with a particular illustrator and what their inspiration might be.  The designs are just so cute, I figured there must be an artist behind them.  In any case, these Lip Parfaits in Summer Cone and Exotic Fruits perfectly fit the summer exhibition theme.  (I'm eyeing the rest of the Lip Parfaits - I NEED Guilty Pug!)

Trifle Cosmetics Lip Parfaits in Summer Cone and Exotic Fruits

Exhibition label

This starfish-embossed powder from Estée Lauder is so pretty, I wish they'd release more like it.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Sea Star bronzing blush, 2011

Tokyo Milk's Neptune and the Mermaid collection technically consists of fragrance and bath and body products instead of makeup, but I couldn't NOT put it in the exhibition.

Tokyo Milk Neptune and the Mermaid

I love how the mermaid is gazing at her nails, perhaps wondering if she needs a manicure (mer-icure?)

Tokyo Milk Neptune and the Mermaid

Tokyo Milk Neptune and the Mermaid

Exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

This shelf is looking a little sparse because I'm missing yet another item.  I ordered several of Etude House's Glass Tinting Lips Talk cases (I want all of them!), including one with a hilarious cartoonish pineapple face, but every time I click on the tracking number it says it's not found.  So I suspect my package is lost.  Sigh.  Anyway, I did manage to find this delightful Tony Moly gloss and you might remember my joy at scoring the Paul & Joe eye shadow on Ebay.  It's one of my most treasured finds since I wasn't collecting at the time it was released (2004) and I'm forever trying to track down Paul & Joe items that were released prior to 2006 - they pop up so rarely.

Tony Moly and Paul & Joe

Exhibition label

I wasn't going to buy Lancôme's summer 2016 bronzer initially and then caved after the summer exhibition went up so I figured I'd include it this year, especially since the design goes so nicely with Clarins summer 2017 bronzer.  The latter was another difficult call to make as to whether to display it open or closed.  Once again closed won out since the print on the outer case is just as pretty as what's inside, plus the Lancôme one is open so I thought a combination of closed and open worked best.

Clarins Sunkissed bronzer and Lancome Belle de Teint

Exhibition label

Another mermaid palette from another indie beauty retailer.  While I was really hoping Bitter Lace Beauty's mermaid palette would be released in time for the exhibition, obviously I'm pleased to display this one and the Saucebox palette.  :)

KG Beauty Mermaid palette

Exhibition label

Another perennial favorite:  MAC's To the Beach collection from 2010.  As with the Chantecaille palettes I should probably update the original photos.

MAC To the Beach

MAC Marine Life highlighter

Exhibition label

So that's it!  I hope the exhibition put you in a summery mood.  I for one am craving pineapple and a visit to the aquarium.  :)


¡Es un milagro! ¡Bienvenido Pai Pai!

So I have some big news!  No, the Museum does not have a physical space, but this is almost as good.  You might remember I've had a long-time love affair with Mexican brand Pai Pai, but was dismayed at the inability to obtain their lipsticks in the U.S. Well, the makeup gods smiled upon me, for Pai Pai has revamped their website and international shipping is now only 20 Mexican pesos (roughly $1.12 U.S. dollars).  It was a veritable Christmas in July miracle!  Naturally I bought plenty of goodies. Welcome to the Makeup Museum's collection, Pai Pai!

I thought I'd start with the most recent collab and work my way back.  For those of you not familiar with Pai Pai, the company has the genius idea to work with a different Mexican artist each season to create limited edition lipstick packaging that celebrates the country's heritage.  The newest partnership is with 24 year-old, Mexico City-based Jorge Serrano.  I couldn't find anything about what inspired the prints for his collection, as the Pai Pai blog seems to have disappeared in the website redesign, and the cached version only provided a general description of his style.  I've been following him on Instagram (he has such a great feed - lots of color and uplifting quotes rendered in his beautiful calligraphy) and was thinking about requesting an interview, but I'm not 100% sure he's fluent in English and my Spanish is so atrocious at this point I couldn't ask him anything.  So while I don't have any real information, I must say that I am positively in love with the vibrant, tropical lusciousness of this collection. As I lamented in the notes for the summer 2017 exhibition, I was so sad not to be able to buy Serrano's designs since they would have been perfect for the fruity theme, but I'm glad they're in my hot little hands now.  That's all that matters.  :)

Jorge Serrano for Pai Pai

Jorge Serrano for Pai Pai

I love all the designs but these 2 are my favorites - pineapples galore and that bird is just too cute.

Jorge Serrano for Pai Pai

Serrano has dabbled in these motifs before.  Some examples from 2015 and 2014:

Jorge Serrano - Alas Olas

Bird illustration by Jorge Serrano

Pineapple print by Jorge Serrano

Pineapple print by Jorge Serrano

Thematically speaking, his work reminds me a little bit of I Scream Colour's - pop culture icons and mermaids abound.

Lady Gaga illustration by Jorge Serrano

These two were for Nylon Espanol.

Jorge Serrano for Nylon - Britney

Jorge Serrano for Nylon(images from @soyserrano)

Overall, Serrano is yet another artist whose work I have recently fallen in love with.  :)

Next up, released a little further back in the spring was a collection by Poni Lab, a design company run by sisters Minerva and Denisse Mendoza.  These illustrations are also a ton of fun!  I love pineapple anything, as you know, but I think my favorite was the reverse mermaid...who's wearing lipstick.  Not only is it adorable, it was also inspired by Rene Magritte's 1934 work The Collective Invention (and/or possibly this one.) So bonus points for a really cool art history reference!

Poni Lab for Pai Pai

Poni Lab for Pai Pai

I had no idea these were Dr. Who/Back to the Future motifs until I actually had them in my hands.  Looking online I just thought they were cute little prints, but then when I took a closer look I realized they were very specific references (which I've linked for those of you not familiar).  As I did with one of Paul & Joe's recent lipstick cases, I thought I'd show the details because they are simply too clever not to.  Let's see, we have a Weeping Angel (these are one of the creepier monsters from Dr. Who), Nikes on a hoverboard and puffy red vest worn by Marty McFly, complete with Doc's "Great Scott!" exclamation (Back to the Future), and then the Tardis and a Dalek from Dr. Who.  The car with "where we're going we don't need roads", which you can see in the pictures above, is from Back to the Future.

Pai Pai x Poni Lab

Alas, the other ones in this collection had already sold out, but they were overwhelmingly cute as well.  A literal sweet tooth, some Warhol-esque bananas, a print full of friendly dinosaurs, rainbows and cookies all transported me to my happy place. I mean, you can't be sad when looking at these, right?

Pai Pai x Poni Lab

As with Serrano I couldn't find a ton of information on what inspired Poni Lab and wasn't sure about their English fluency, but looking at their Instagram feed, it seems most of the the Pai Pai collection consisted of previously created patterns - it looks like only one was made specifically for Pai Pai, and that was also based on a previous design.

Poni Lab pouches

Poni Lab pineapple phone cases

Poni Lab dinosaur pouch

Poni Lab fish couple print

Nevertheless, I'm smitten with their style.  It's very nostalgic and playful, with lots of cartoony animals and cheerful anthropomorphic beings, and filled with some of my favorite motifs (pineapples and sweets).  And tons of unicorns, but also a few mermaids here and there. ;)

Poni Lab narwhal unicorn print

Poni Lab ice cream pouch

Poni Lab cherries print

Poni Lab it's pine-o-clock

Poni Lab unicorn plushes

Poni Lab pixelated unicorn pouch

Poni Lab mer-shiba pillow

I don't want kids but if I did, I'd buy this mer-kitty (or as Poni Lab calls them, "purr-maids"!) stuff in a heartbeat.

Poni Lab purrmaids

Poni Lab purrmaids t-shirt(images from @ponilab)

Finally, we have Talia Cu's amazing Frida Kahlo-inspired collection.  I've already discussed it so I won't re-hash it, but I must mention that these were actually sent to me for free by Pai Pai!  Talia spotted my blog post and contacted me on Instagram, saying she felt bad that I couldn't get my hands on them.  So she reached out to one of Pai Pai's founders on my behalf and told them all about the Museum, and they ended up sending these to me completely free.  It's the first time in 9 years of blogging that I've ever gotten anything for free from a makeup company!!  So a huge thanks to Talia and Pai Pai for their kindness and generosity.

Talia Cu for Pai Pai

I'm thrilled I was able to get all of these for the Museum, as they're all quite worthy additions.  I can't wait to see what the next collection is, as it's being teased on Instagram and the suspense is killing me...I think I might spy a pug design?!

What do you think?  Any favorites?



MM Musings, vol 25: unsolicited donations

Makeup Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum topics as they relate to the collecting of cosmetics, along with my vision for a "real", physical Makeup Museum. These posts help me think through how I'd run things if the Museum was an actual organization, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning. I also hope that these posts make everyone see that the idea of a museum devoted to cosmetics isn't so crazy after all - it can be done! came across this article detailing an example of an unsolicited museum donation, and it got me thinking about how this would apply to the Makeup Museum. Let's explore the pros and cons of such donations for a cosmetics museum, shall we? 

In the 9 years I've been running the Museum, it has received a handful of amazing, completely unsolicited donations, two of which I haven't even posted about because they were so huge and I'm still in the process of adding them to the inventory and photographing everything.  Some very kind people bestowed hard to find or vintage items in great condition simply because they were going to throw them out, but instead they took the time to do a little research and discovered the Museum might be a good place for these items instead of the trash.  I must say I've had good luck so far with unsolicited donations - no one has sent me beauty items that are in such poor condition that they really do belong in the garbage.  (No one has even requested that I reimburse them for postage, which blows my mind!  I've offered, but they all turned me down.)  Even though I usually have no idea what I'm getting when people offer to send me things - very few take photos and just offer a brief description - I have no problem digging through the items once they arrive and throwing them out if they really are trash.  And as I'm always trying to grow the Museum's collection, right now I have a favorable opinion of such donations.  It's not often you can get quality items for free, so these unsolicited donations essentially mean collection growth without spending a dime of my own money.  Indeed, several prominent museums have had help in growing their collections via unsolicited donations as well. As the director of the institutional history division at the Smithsonian remarked in this article, "We built our collection with amateur collectors." 

Another pro of an unsolicited donation is that even if I can't use it for the collection, it at least provides research and/or blog post fodder.  I like to think of donations as opportunities for other aspects of museum expansion, as sometimes these items can lead me to look into vintage brands or trends I hadn't explored before, or even exhibition concepts.  For example, the Stila memorabilia donations I received sparked the idea of doing a whole exhibition on Stila girl illustrations.  (Still working on it, obviously!)

Finally, for established organizations unsolicited donations can also lead to good press and increased visitor engagement.  This article in Nonprofit Quarterly discusses an unsolicited donation that a museum could have used as PR opportunity and a way to interact with more visitors (although I do understand why the museum didn't follow through with it).  While right now the Makeup Museum doesn't have any real PR to speak of,  if it was an actual museum I'd absolutely pass along unsolicited donations to my PR team and education/engagement staff and see if they could do anything with them.

Now for the not-so-good aspects of unsolicited donations.  Most museums have policies in place clearly stating that they cannot accept unsolicited donations that are left at the doorstep or sent through the mail, and for several good reasons.  First, and probably most important, unsolicited donations can present a host of legal problems.  State laws regarding abandoned property vary, so museums have to determine whether they can legally own donations that were left or sent anonymously. Not only that, while the donation is monetarily free, the donor may put burdensome conditions in place, such as having the item on display at all times.  This makes the legal aspects of the deed of gift more complicated, and the conditions themselves may be more trouble than the donation is worth.  Plus, some pieces have questionable provenance, especially those where the donor refuses to say how they acquired the item or even give their name - no museum wants stolen or fake works in their collections because, again, this could lead to an epic litigation nightmare.

Second, unsolicited donations require an incredible amount of experience in handling extremely delicate situations.  If a donor is turned down, the result may be a permanently damaged relationship that could affect other donations.  Not only does museum staff want to avoid hurt feelings, as donors can be very attached to an object and may take the rejection personally, but the donor may have something else of value that they are now not willing to part with.  As this Wall Street Journal article explains, "Responding to inquiries for donations requires considerable tact, if for no other reason than a collector offering one unwanted object may have one or more others in which the museum would be far more officials attempt to learn something about the person making the offer, because they don't want to close the door on a relationship that might yield other benefits."    

Third, unsolicited donations can be logistically difficult for a small museum that doesn't necessarily have the resources to sift through everything that gets left outside their door or in their mail.  Even if the item proves worthy of the museum's collection, the accessioning process takes a considerable amount of time.  Additionally, the museum may not have the storage space or ability to conserve the items. While mostly applauding the unsolicited donation of goldfish to a museum's pond (literally someone just smuggled a bunch of fish onto museum property and dumped them into the pond without consulting any staff), the Nonprofit Quarterly article notes that the fish ended up dead since the pond wasn't the right environment for them.  If a museum can't properly care for a donation for whatever reason, it actually does more harm than good.

Finally, the museum's focus is also a reason that unsolicited donations are tricky to handle.  In the case of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, donated animal carcasses to be taxidermied or otherwise preserved by the museum present a safety hazard if the critters succumbed to rabies or carried dangerous parasites.  On a less deadly side, I'd imagine a fashion museum would have to take special care in ensuring the donated garments are free of moths and other insects, lest they spread to the rest of the museum's collection and destroy it. 

In light of all these challenges, many museums have very clear policies in place that help protect them against the potential pitfalls that unsolicited donations present.  As for the Makeup Museum, right now I don't think I really need an official policy, since 1. it's not like I'm getting bombarded with donations so I can handle the amount; 2.  legally I can't get into trouble for accepting items or throwing them out since the Museum isn't an actual institution - it's really a situation of one person gifting items to another.  (At least, I don't think I can be sued or anything like that...any lawyers want to weigh in?)

However, should the Makeup Museum ever become a real organization, it would investigate unsolicited donations on a case-by-case basis and maintain a public policy that all staff is well-versed in.  I'd definitely require a form of some kind to be filled out online and have hard copies available in the case of in-person drop-offs.  I'd also follow the standard guideline that most museums have posted - I might even use this exact language from the Chicago History Museum and the International Spy Museum cobbled together, since it's perfect (why reinvent the wheel?):  "The Museum does not accept donations through the mail or in person unless prior arrangements have been made with the appropriate curatorial or collection staff member. All unsolicited donations sent via the mail will be returned to sender.  The Museum reserves the right to dispose of unsolicited items."  Storage space shouldn't be that much of an issue since makeup items are generally small.  Currently I'm running out of room, but that's only because I'm trying to keep the collection in my home - if I had a large dedicated space, it wouldn't pose too much of a problem (unless the donation was something like salon furniture or oversize props...still, if Paul & Joe wanted to donate those giant cat lipsticks they used for their events, I'd take them in a heartbeat, lack of space be damned).  As for health hazards, I can see that used makeup is kind of gross, but most likely it doesn't pose a threat as the items can be somewhat sanitized and no one would actually be using them - they're just being displayed.  The only things you'd have to be really careful with are hair-related items, i.e., I'd think twice about accepting a used vintage hairbrush or other accessories, as an outbreak of lice is not desirable.

There are many potential issues with unsolicited donations, but I believe that if a museum sticks to their policy and ensures their staff understands it, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.  As Jody Ochoa, Director of the Idaho State Historical Museum emphasizes, "If we don't know anything about an item, how can we take it? Having a good solid policy is really key, and it protects everyone, including the volunteers."  My current job also forces me to handle sensitive situations on occasion, so I think I'd be equipped to gently and tactfully negotiate or turn down a donation - hopefully there wouldn't be any burning of bridges with donors for me.

What do you think?

Curator's Corner, 8/6/2017

CC logoLinks, links, get your links here!

- Loved this history of nail polish over at Racked...and I can't wait for this new book it mentions (I'm currently reading her other one.)  This history of the hair dryer was also interesting.

- Think I'll skip the "lobe strobe", but upside down makeup actually seems reasonable.

- Recent beauty fails involve, of all things, a dead fly and a maxi pad.

- There are swatches, and then there is swatch art.

- A teenage makeup artist revisits the '90s on her eyelids, while The Cut reflects briefly on the decade's popular "butt cut" for men.

- Not sure how I feel about these new Sephora stores.  On the one hand, they're good for anyone who feels overwhelmed or intimidated by the selection and doesn't fully understand their skin and makeup needs.  On the other hand, I feel like it would be super annoying for someone like me, who wants to be left completely alone while shopping - more in-depth services are not what I'm after.

- Also not sure about this debacle.  My gut instinct is to tell the Kardashians to back off, but...their logos aren't really similar? I don't know.

The random:

- So much '90s nostalgia!  ABC's original TGIF lineup returns to Hulu, both Titanic and this one-hit wonder turn 20, and the stars of the I Love the '90s music tour share their thoughts on the decade.  I also came across the history of Good Burger and the rather sad story of the actor in Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" video.

- Nostalgia isn't limited to the '90s, however:  early aughts fashion trends are being revived, and there's going to be an exhibition on pop culture of the 2000s (brought to you by the same folks who launched the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding exhibition). 

- Smithsonian Magazine briefly discusses how sunbathing became a fad in the 1930s...thought it was a nice little follow up to my post on vintage tanning product ads

- Made me smile.

How are you doing?