Live music in London's art galleries and museums is not uncommon. The ICA hosts regular gigs and the National Portrait Gallery features live music as part of its Thursday and Friday night Late Shift series. Tate Modern has run the highest profile art-music love-in with the recent Kraftwerk gigs, while classical music has also featured at the gallery. In spring 2011, Daniel Barenboim played an impromptu concert in the Turbine Hall.
Rarely though, if ever, does a gallery programme live music as an ongoing part of an exhibition. For its upcoming show on 17th-century Dutch master Vermeer, the National Gallery has invited the Academy of Ancient Music, one of Britain’s finest baroque orchestras, to perform hourly sets in the gallery for three days a week, as well as two curator-led concerts.
The idea of the show, Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure (opening 26 June 2013), is to shine a light on the role of music in the society of that time. The show's headline paintings are four Vermeer masterpieces, including the work pictured above, all of which show female musicians in domestic settings, a sure-fire signifier of gentility and social standing.
To the backdrop of these paintings, the Academy of Ancient Music will play music by 17th-century Dutch and European composers and, to add a further dimension to the experience, instruments and manuscripts of the period will also be exhibited.
Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure opens on 26 June 2013 (tickets: £7). The Academy of Ancient Music will perform every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the exhibition space.
Image courtesy of the National Gallery.