Manus x Machina
The MET Museum / New York


Under the architecture direction of Shohei Shigematsu/OMA/AMO, a white, translucent volume was inserted into the existing brick and stone corridors of the Lehman Wing at The Metropolitan Museum in New York, softening its hard geometries. Echoing the sectional relationship of a central clerestory and perimeter naves, the resulting ghost cathedral resonates with the classical language of the adjacent Medieval Art gallery. A raised platform built across the double height atrium provides continuous circulation and a 2,300 square foot central gallery– an unprecedented intervention in the Lehman Wing. Upon arrival, this domed clerestory orients visitor’s with a 2014 Chanel wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld that embodies the exhibition’s theme. Details of the 20-foot train’s baroque pattern are projected on the dome’s black out scrim, recalling the Sistine Chapel. Four chapel-style pochés provide an area to focus on case studies.

As a high-performance theatrical scrim, the perforated membrane material of the ghost cathedral offers the tensile flexibility required for the dome geometries as well as varying degrees of transparency. When lit from the front, the scrim appears opaque enough to function as a projection backdrop for garment details. Lit from behind, the scrim appears transparent, exposing a sense of the Lehman Wing’s existing material palette and language. The unexpected spatial depth of the scrim allows for visual connections to the wedding dress from all quadrants of the Lehman Wing, while also revealing silhouettes of the temporary scaffolding framework housed within. In the lower level, scrim enfilades provide a permeable divider for each technique. As an integrated system for lighting, signage and projection, the scrim seamlessly serves multiple curation needs that would otherwise rely on overpowering media screens.