Skip to Content

Jim Shaw: The Wig Museum at Marciano Art Foundation

Jim shaw wig museum
Photograph by Robert Wedemeyer 

Jim Shaw’s (BFA 1974) The Wig Museum is one of the inaugural exhibits at the new Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, on view through September 17.

The exhibit features an actual wig museum, designed to look like something on Hollywood Boulevard (or, even better, something designed to look like it’s something on Hollywood Boulevard, like you’d see at Universal Studios or Disneyland). Using wigs as symbols of authority,” the museum chronicles weird, white-people pageantry through the ages, from a Marie Antoinette-style 18th-century noblewoman’s wig to wigs worn by Masonic elders. The collection gradually veers into straight drag territory; a series colored wigs represent the elements — Earth” is a tan fro with comically large quartz crystals jutting out from it — and one called Flat Top” resembles a submarine constructed from long, battleship-gray hair. In the exhibit’s program, Shaw tells curator Philipp Kaiser, “[A wig] represents something I feel is coming to an end, for better or for worse. And so that’s sort of the sub-theme of the whole thing. It is the end of control … as it’s occurring now.” He says for better or for worse,” but you get the distinct impression it’s for the better.

A Long-Closed Masonic Temple on Wilshire Has Become a Dystopian Wonderland | LA Weekly