Palace Yurt

Palace Yurt installed at the "Fashioning Felt" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt

Palace Yurt installed at the "Fashioning Felt" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt

An installation designed by Janice Arnold transforms the beautiful but common greenhouse of the Cooper Hewitt Museum into a magical-spiritual space. The reinterpretation of traditional Mongolian spaces through a more contemporary vision was meant to be a reading room, a discussion space and a meeting point. Meters and meters of stunning contemporary designed fabrics made out of felt and other different materials (wool, mohair, silk, metal, linen, soy, tinsel) were hung from the ceiling connecting it to the walls. The installation is homage to the traditional manner in which felt was made and used hundreds of years ago and the way it is still being made and used in central Asia today. It brings the public closer to the Mongolian culture in very subtle ways. The manufacture of the fabrics and the creation of the installation took up to two years.

In the Mongolian culture making felt is a blessing and the fabrics in this installation have written on them a Mongolian blessing in both English and also its original language.  The artist embroidered the blessing in the felt in a subtle and unnoticeable way, camouflaging it with the texture of the fabrics. She was trying to reflect how the blessing is something infused in the making of felt. In central Asia, spaces like this were traditionally used as conservatories for plants.



6 responses to “Palace Yurt

  1. I wonder if the Yurt for Mongolians is like the sacred space of the painted cave for European prehistoric people or the shaman’s illustrated teepee for the Indians of the American Plains. These are in a sense the earliest forms of a museum, the ‘ur-forms’, sacred spaces of gathering and communion with mythology and ones forebears, spaces where the events of history are chronicled, passed down the generations by oral storytelling traditions and sometimes recorded on the walls in lasting pictures. In the early 20th Century Wilhelm Worringer talked about these spaces as the original form of virtual reality.

  2. Interesting comparison!
    I’m glad we’re getting onto the history and theory of museums here and in our readings. How well can you plan for the future if you don’t know what you’re dealing with?

  3. It is interesting to see in what way the museum has changed through time as well. From places of ritual and gathering to the house collection and cabinets of curiosities, and then to look at the museums that we have around us today. Also, how different each museum is, in terms of focus, collection, and direction. The entire idea of collecting and preserving items from the past and piece that represent culture is complex, why do we as a people feel compelled to hold on to these objects and place them within a “sacred” environment?

  4. I love this installation at the Cooper-Hewitt. Its so special because it gives a place for visitors to the “Fashioning Felt” exhibit to relax and experience the material in a more relaxed attitude. There is ess pressure to read labels, look at everything, etc. Instead, you can simpley experience, any way you choose, a traditional Mongolian structure, updated through the eyes of a contemporary craftsperson.

  5. I loved the “fashioning felt” exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt…I actualy went twice. The Yurt Palace is so light and beautiful, it is like a sanctuary – it is also the only felt items that can be touched, if I recall correctly, which really added another element to the experience for me. I really was dying to sit in a few of the chairs – just to see how sturdy they really are. I also loved the pearl neclaces covered in felt. It was a way to dress up some ordinary costume jewelry and really make it unique.

    The “design for a living world” exhibition was also quite fascinating to me. The photographs are captivating and the exhibit flows very nicely. I especially loved the salmon skin dress made by Isaac Mizrahi.

  6. Moon Over Martinborough

    We recently had a visiting American dinner guest who lives in a yurt. She loves it. She has three yurts, and she’s named them all: Gurt, Burt, and Yurt.

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