Manus X Machina exhibition ceilings and walls in custom perforated membranes

Manus X Machina exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

For this Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, lead architect Shohei Shigematsu of OMA New York chose NEWMAT to supply and install the 30,000 square feet of scrim to achieve his “translucent ghost cathedral” design.

OMA New York transformed the Lehman Wing’s central atrium and corridors into a white translucent volume inserted into the existing brick and stone corridors of the Lehman Wing, softening its hard geometries.

The armature of scaffolding used to build the space and wrap it with the NEWMAT membranes introduces a unique temporality within this historic institution. The classical architectural shapes were designed to harmonize with the museum’s existing architecture, while the NEWMAT membranes provide a neutral space that allows visitors to appreciate the details of the intricategarments.

The entrance to the exhibit is a domed clerestory, which leads the visitors towards a 2014 Chanel wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld that embodies the exhibition’s theme. The details of the 20-foot train’s baroque pattern are projected onto the dome’s black-out NEWMAT membrane, a visual effect that calls to mind the Sistine Chapel.

The custom perforated membrane 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 membrane appears opaque enough to function as a projection backdrop for garment details. Lit from behind, it appears transparent, exposing a sense of the Lehman Wing’s existing material palette and language. The unexpected spatial depth of the membrane allows a visual connection to the wedding dress from all quadrants of the Lehman Wing, while also revealing silhouettes of the temporary scaffolding frameworkhousedwithin.

This Project won the 2017 Lumen Awards.

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