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Hauser & Wirth’s Bronze Age 'museum' to travel to Colchester

Fictional museum booth will be re-staged at Firstsite gallery after drawing crowds at Frieze, where the gift shop raised £10,000 for UK regional museums

Bronze Age c.3500BC–AD2017, Hauser & Wirth at Frieze London, 2017. Image courtesy the artists/estates and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Alex Delfanne The artists/estates and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Alex Delfanne

The contemporary art gallery Firstsite in Colchester, Essex, is to re-stage Hauser & Wirth’s fictional Bronze Age museum, designed in collaboration with the classicist Mary Beard for Frieze art far, which took place in London last week. It is apparently unprecedented for an institution to display a commercial gallery’s fair booth as part of its exhibition programme, although the presentation started as a collaborative exercise between the commercial and institutional sectors: combining ancient items borrowed from UK regional museums with Hauser & Wirth’s Modern and contemporary works.

Sally Shaw, the director of Firstsite, visited the Bronze Age presentation at Frieze and then approached the gallery about re-staging the booth. “Bronze Age is an extraordinary collection of works and objects put together with great skill, humour and attention to detail—right down to the slightly grubby carpet tiles and greying plug sockets," Shaw says.

"The curation brings together ancient and contemporary cultures in a way that generously unlocks new interpretations and experiences of both,” she adds. Taking the project to Colchester, the UK's oldest recorded town and seat of the Roman occupation of Britain, is “a perfect continuation of this story”, Shaw says. The show is planned for November and will continue into the new year.

Works sold by Hauser & Wirth during Frieze—which include a bronze sculpture by Hans Arp ($1.1m), two Rashid Johnson panel works ($125,000 each), a Martin Creed sculpture ($75,000) and piece of jewellery by Louise Bourgeois ($75,000)—will be replaced in the Firstsite show with other bronze pieces from Hauser & Wirth’s inventory.

Meanwhile, Hauser & Wirth’s much frequented gift shop, selling typical souvenir fare such as Bronze Age mugs, badges, T-shirts and bookmarks during the fair, raised £10,000 in donations for UK regional museums.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 294 October 2017