Even for Portland, Oregon, it was the perfect storm: a major bike collection was opening at the Portland Art Museum while the city was hosting the World Naked Bike Ride.
And that’s how a thousand nearly naked people, who paid a discounted admission price of $1 for every item of clothing they wore, came to see “Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design,” a selection of 40 bikes owned by Vienna-based designer Michael Embacher, when it premiered at the museum early last month.
Only in Portland? Maybe just for now.
Aside from the nudity, the event resembles much of the bike-related programming art museums are developing these days: It showcases the bicycle as an object of design, as well as personal expression. It reaches out to non-traditional museum audiences. It rewards visitors for using alternative transportation. And it’s packing in the crowds. More than 20,000 people have visited the show already, says museum director Brian J. Ferriso. “Communicating that objects of great design are in our world every day opens up a door of accessibility that’s very important to an art museum,” he says.