Museum curators have engaged in an online battle of the bottoms, assembling on Twitter to present their most captivating behinds, as part of a campaign designed to engage would-be museum visitors who, with many galleries closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, cannot ogle the buns in person.
The #CuratorBattle began in April, but it was last month’s theme, #BestMuseumBum, that has had people enthralled for weeks.
Soon, artworks emerged based on creatures not commonly associated with having bottoms, such as blowflies, mushrooms and fish and categories blossomed to include: bee bottoms, Tudor bums, angular side bum, divine booty, tessellated maenad posteriors, weaponized bum, spectacularly tattooed behind and potato-shaped animal butts.
The Yorkshire museum launched a #CuratorBattle in April. In the competition’s first round, the museum asked other collections to share the creepiest items. A spokesman explained to the Express and Star newspaper that the #CuratorBattles are also, “a chance for museums big and small to share their objects under a given theme to create what essentially become global online exhibitions.”
In the months since the campaign started, themes have included “fantastic fakes,” “mystery objects” and, somewhat underwhelmingly, “tremendous transport.”
But for those suitably behind the times, #BestMuseumBum had the most to offer. For example, the French word for buttocks, English-speaking readers learned, is “popotins.”
There was the bottom of a stuffed tapir gone bald from too much petting, 3,500-year-old underpants, and “Henry VII’s burgeoning derriere” a collection of his combat armour that grew by almost 20 inches in 20 years: The competition provoked responses from around the world, from Canada to Lithuania. In Japan, the Ota Memorial Museum of Art joined in with some sumo bums painted by Hokusai, while the Netherlands’ Freedom Museum shared an “anti-Hitler pin cushion” and the National Motor Museum in Hampshire, UK, shared a glass car mascot that prompted Northampton’s National Leather Collection to comment “dat (gl)ass.”
Not wanting to be left behind, the Museum of Oxford shared what it called a “shiny flattened peach:” the derriere of a sculpture worn down from people touching it.
When one user asked if the object could be restored, the museum was quick to clarify that the “wearing down of the bum,” was caused during its time on display in the home of Alderman Fletcher, not from recent visitors.
This week’s #CuratorBattle theme, “star objects,” devoted to the most famous pieces in museum collections, will also be the Yorkshire museum’s last, it announced late on Tuesday.
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