- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

LONDON

Cultural critics yesterday chided decisions by two major London museums to devote shows to celebrities Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss, charging they were chasing crowds, not quality.

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Kylie — The Exhibition” opens tomorrow, the week before “Face of Fashion” at the National Portrait Gallery, which features fashion shots of Miss Moss, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Sting.

Both shows are expected to be among the capital’s biggest draws this year, but they have provoked claims that state-subsidized museums are dumbing down in the face of government pressure to increase visitor numbers.

Stephen Bayley, a cultural commentator who set up London’s Design Museum and has worked at the Victoria and Albert, said he feared the exhibitions were “a capitulation to the cult of celebrity.”

Mr. Bayley also described as “ruinous” government policies that he said “reward number chasing,” and he took issue with a reported comment by one of the Victoria and Albert’s trustees that it should not be a place for elitism.

“She’s very, very seriously wrong — it’s exactly the V and A’s place to be elitist,” Mr. Bayley said.

Reporters got a sneak preview of the Kylie show yesterday. It features a series of the Australian star’s designer costumes, modeled by mannequins that emphasize her famous bottom, as well as a mock-up of her dressing room.

Victoria Broackes, the Victoria and Albert’s head of exhibitions for the performing arts, told Agence France-Presse the show covers fashion, design and performing arts and works “completely on its own merits.”

“The exhibition itself is free,” she added, “so whilst there will be thousands and thousands of visitors, the museum will benefit from extending its audience rather than financially.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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