Art Directly At Your Door: Museum Express

Getting something delivered at your front door is normality nowadays, since the world we’re living in is becoming more and more open to this kinds of services, as their usage was even higher during the pandemic situation. We are all familiar with the variety of purchasable items on the most known delivery apps, from the classic burger to supermarket products, all the way to sex toys.

So, a wide range of choice is available and incredibly enough, people, after all these years of deliveries, did not notice the lack of one possibility: delivering art.

And it was, in fact, during the pandemic that this brilliant idea popped in the mind of Sebastian Jung, a German artist based in Düsseldorf, who thanks to his sharp sense of humour and genuine inventive created Museum Express, a delivering platform that allows you to literally order art exhibition. Picture yourself enjoying a contemporary masterpiece in the comfort of your own couch and with complete freedom.

As an effective alternative to a museum, this new concept forges a new experience for whoever loves the enjoyment of art, not only for its originality but for the different taste that you can get while observing Jung’s handpicked artworks.

Jung roams around the city with his bike and his cubical bag, bringing different exhibits that change according to a specific program he carefully created, hoping to stimulate future artists to create transportable pieces of art.

His project is proceeding thanks to the valid business model he built, gathering appreciation and an international success among the contemporary art world. If you are interested too in the project please support Sebastian’s work and check all the available infos on the official website of Museum Express.

Hello Sebastian, glad to have you on JugaadMag. We are very curious to dive into your work and, especially, Museum Express. But first, introduce yourself in your own way.

Thanks for having me. I’m Sebastian Jung, I live and work in Düsseldorf, Germany. When I was studying communication design I preferred to develop creative concepts — but instead of starting directly there I first worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator after graduating. In the last two years have I returned to my own ideas and concepts and I’m trying to create a new career path for myself.

When did you start to grow an interest in art? Do you have any name you would consider a major inspiration?

There has always been a connection to painting and art in my younger years. But in my environment, within the family, friends or when I was at school, art was never really a main topic and I always felt a bit like an outsider. During my studies a kind of longing for art arose and now i’m totally into it. I mainly follow artists with a good sense of humor and unusual ideas such as Erwin Wurm, Erik Kessels, PUTPUT and Helmut Smits.

Your work seems mostly focused on the grotesque and auto ironic side of society or even your own self. Although, all the artworks deliver strong messages, especially in your latest creations where the object is often decontextualized (as in GoSlow or Home Office) or where your body has a precise humorous function (as in 24 Olives Advent Calendar and Bike or Body?). Personally, I love this kind of interpretation of the world, so, what was the spark that triggered you to pursue this path?

During the pandemic I realized that I was no longer enjoying my job as a graphic designer and illustrator. I then tried to keep myself a bit more happy with my own creative concepts. I always took one day off from the work week for my own projects. It started with the idea PASSPORT HACKER. After 10 years you have to renew the photo on you ID and I thought why not hiding something in it. A little gimmick that is not recognized by the photo booth which creates these geometric images. I came up with 18 ideas to hack the machine and in the end it actually worked out: today I have half a beard on my ID card. 

I also think it was all a bit of self-therapy. Also working with my face and body in front of the camera. That used to be more difficult for me. Now I consistently enjoy doing something awkward because it expands my comfort zone and creates good stories.

As far as I could see, COVID-19, influenced you substantially, and the main concept of Museum Express was born from the whole situation too. How did you deal with it artistically and which kind of feeling did you have towards it?

The pandemic was unusual and very stressful for all of us. But beside the strange feeling of »What is going on?« not much has changed in my working situation because my office is in my living room at home. And still is. Nevertheless, the whole situation has raised many questions in my mind about how the world will change when this is all over. And that’s how the idea of ​​the MUSEUM EXPRESS came about.

Pictures courtesy of Sebastian Jung – Photos by Ben Hammer (@benhammer_)

Let’s talk about Museum Express. The concept is indeed new and very peculiar, and the main fascination I had is regarding the whole study you did behind it, crafting a brand out of nothing. What were initially your intentions, besides the art delivery?

In December 2020 many galleries and museums in Germany were closed due to the pandemic. At the same time delivery services have expanded everywhere. I then simply put these two thoughts together and asked myself whether art could not also be delivered in order to support the art scene. The classic backpacks of the delivery drivers are perfectly made for this purpose because their cube shape basically imitates a room. So why not display something in it?

Considering the radical change in the fruition of the artwork, Museum Express represents the opposite idea of a typical museum: the artwork goes directly to the customers and it opens its conceptual space exactly at the moment of unzipping the backpack. In this way, the sacredness of the artistic exhibitory space (which has built a strong foundation over the years) changes for the visitor. What is, in your opinion, the main difference between a classic visit to a museum and your customers’ experience?

When I’m in a museum or visiting an exhibition in a gallery I sometimes have a feeling of making a mistake. For example stepping over a line on the floor in front of a canvas. Also the museum attendants always keep an eye on you all the time. Sometimes you feel a bit uncomfortable and not relaxed. The MUSEUM EXPRESS questions the classic exhibition space and wants to be more personal than any other museum or gallery. Instead of countless works there is always only one artwork to see. This can be a sculpture, a canvas, an installation etc. So it is a clear reduction to the essentials. And the main difference to normal museum operations is of course the delivery. So you can comfortably enjoy this small event with your friends in sweatpants on Sundays and have art delivered to you.

On site I first talk about the artist in the box — the backpack is still closed at this point. Also other works by the artist are shown on the iPad. In this way I try to stimulate the viewer’s imagination so that they can perhaps imagine what might be in the box. The customers should become an interactive part of the presentation.

Then it’s time: The light in the box is switched on, the front flap of the backpack opens and the mini exhibition can be viewed. This often leads to conversations or even discussions about the artwork. Towards the end I open a hidden drawer with a mini museum shop with MUSEUM EXPRESS merchandise. The artists can also sell postcards, stickers etc. there.

Pictures courtesy of Sebastian Jung

How do you select the artworks for the project? Do you gather submissions or is it a handpicking process?

I personally select the artists for my mini-exhibitions but there are also collaborations with other galleries and museums.

For me it will be interesting in the future to find artists who also see the MUSEUM EXPRESS backpack as a challenge and use it in its form or its reduction. I think we’re just at the beginning when it comes to exploiting creativity here. Brad Downey for example made an inflatable sky-dancer appear out of the box with the help of a fan. That was a lot of fun!

Are you planning on bringing Museum Express to other cities around Europe/the World?

Recently the artist duo PUTPUT invited me to Copenhagen to promote their current exhibition EXTRA NORMAL (until March 2023 at the gallery Bygning A). This experience showed me that my concept could attract more visitors to the gallery and that this also works in other countries. It is of course a big dream for me to present the project in as many countries as possible. Either in collaboration with museums and galleries or through sponsors with my own curated exhibitions.

Pictures courtesy of Sebastian Jung – Photos by Ben Hammer (@benhammer_)

Museum Express is probably one of the most innovative ways of presenting art to the public. Yet the project is not a true business at the moment as far as I could understand, but the possibility of creating one is not remote. Do you think this will be the next step in art fruition or do you have different predictions for the future?

Mobility is a major advantage of the MUSEUM EXPRESS. With my backpack I can go anywhere, on the highest mountain or in a subway station. Everything is possible. Another consideration is to make exhibitions for people with health conditions. You could go into hospitals and show exhibitions from room to room for example.

Due to the enormous feedback and the first successful international test it is up to me to find out in the next few months whether a business model can be built from it. I’m definitely motivated and believe that it can work.

Thank you very much for this interview. Now, a final question: as an artist, do you have any recommendations that you want to share with young people who are approaching art?

Find a weird hobby, challenge yourself every day to do things differently, don’t spend too much time on the internet and believe in the process of an idea. It took me over 1,5 years to figure out what the MUSEUM EXPRESS is but I stuck with it and it changed everything for me.

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