Mobile museum brings miniature art to rural Vermont



View of the Vermont International Museum of Contemporary Art + Design Mobile Museum (all photos courtesy of Matt Neckers)

Every now and then an artist tries to take contemporary art where it doesn’t normally go. Between 1961 and 1964, Claes Oldenburg created “The Store” for which the artist transformed his studio on New York’s Lower East Side into a storefront and filled it with painted pop sculptures in muslin and plaster. Oldenburg imitated the visual language of retail to present his interpretations of everyday objects. Inspired by his example, in 2013 I built Instant Artshop – a stand-alone kiosk on which art products can be displayed – and took it to flea markets, grocery stores, malls, and shopping malls. other public arenas separated from contemporary art spaces. The “shop” sold prints, small sculptures, and an assortment of fine art and ephemera products. The highlight of the project was when I explained Yoko Ono to two Amish girls at a flea market outside of Harrisburg. Or there was the one time I explained to the guy in a “Yes, I’m a redneck” t-shirt that those pink machine gun prints were about to emasculate gun culture. Because of these experiences, when I heard that Matt Neckers had created a mobile art museum, I was more than a little excited. I conducted an email interview with him, through which he shed light on this project.

One of the rooms of the miniature museum

Neckers is an artist from the small town of Eden, Vermont (population 1,323). He caught the nation’s attention in 2011 when his sculpture “Rocket” (2011) was stolen while on display at Helen Day’s Exposed annual outdoor sculpture exhibition. Since then he has opened the Vermont International Museum of Contemporary Art + Design, a four by four foot gallery, he writes, “in a secret location” in Vermont which has become, in the words of Neckers, “a destination for sophisticated art travelers. . “(Neckers can be a bit of a character.) Motivated by a desire to expand his audience, Neckers bought“ a dilapidated vintage RV from Craigslist for $ 500 ”and spent a year turning it into a traveling mobile museum. He spent another two years creating hundreds of miniature works of art for the various galleries of the Mobile Museum.The museum made its debut at City Hall Park in Burlington, Vt., In August 2017, and since then it has popped up at various venues around the state.The museum will be open to visitors at South End Art Hop in Burlington, Vermont this weekend.

Galleries present works of art in a variety of media. An assembly of colored wood hangs on the wall next to a monochrome red sculpture on a white table. In another gallery, a metal mobile hangs in front of a painting. The exhibits

Another exhibition at the museum

in discreet rooms that resemble dioramas, and the works of art on display are sophisticated and diverse. The miniature museum of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag has more than two thousand works of art by luminaries such as Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein and Yayoi Kusama. The art in this collection was specially designed for Amsterdam art dealers Ria and Lex Daniëls who designed the museum in 1991. Unlike the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag collection, however, Neckers made all the art himself. same.

“As people approached the mobile museum many were drawn to the vintage motorhome itself, but once inside the museum the most common responses were ‘wow’ and ‘this is amazing. ”Said Neckers. “After seeing the miniature works of art and the galleries, almost everyone wanted to talk about what they had seen.” In its early days, Neckers was on hand to answer questions from enthusiastic viewers. “In general, almost everyone responded to the playfulness of the project and left with a smile on their face. “

The museum is free of gallery cards and the “curation” of exhibits is somewhat free. But that said, if the galleries were full-sized, their offerings wouldn’t be far removed from what their real-world counterparts do. The Neckers Mobile Museum is an imitator. It can also be read as a caricature, a critique of the banality of the modern museum: as if the only way to make contemporary art interesting to the general public was to scale it differently.

Neckers plans to take a tour with the museum. He says,

In theory, the museum can go anywhere a truck with an RV can go, which is very exciting. When not on the road, the museum will be on permanent display at the headquarters of the Vermont International Museum of Contemporary Art + Design World. I added the word “International” to the name of the museum, because the mobile museum can now theoretically travel to Canada, as long as it can go through customs.

The Mobile Museum makes several stops this fall, including the Kent Museum in Calais, Vermont on October 8 and South End Art Hop in Burlington, Vermont, September 8-10. Spontaneous visits are planned to unexpected places. For more information visit or follow VTIMofCAD on Facebook.

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