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While the Made in the USA exhibition occupies most of the museum’s galleries, the original Phillips house is devoted to new treasures and old favorites. We are so excited to display an especially unique recent acquisition, Valeksa Soares’s Fainting Couch (2011). This multisensory work invites visitors to repose on a stainless steel chaise as they take in the heady olfactory notes of real stargazer lilies—60 to 80 blooms in all—which are stored in drawers built underneath the metal seating.
In order to maintain the pleasant aroma, the lilies must be replaced on a weekly basis, a task that has fallen to none other than the Phillips’s Chief of Security and Operations Dan Datlow! Working directly with the collection wasn’t something Dan ever thought would be part of his daily activities, but he readily admits that he enjoys the responsibility. “The couch demonstrates that the Phillips isn’t a static building, but an active, modern institution. It really makes me appreciate what we do here,” Dan says. “I don’t really look at replacing the lilies as work, it’s actually very therapeutic. I jump at any opportunity to work with the collection like this.”
Soares’s Fainting Couch is on display through the end of April, so make sure you come by and take in the “scent-sational” experience for yourself!