Next month, The Museum of Vancouver will present a vibrant exhibition and profound exploration of one of humanity’s universal desires: happiness. Conceived by one of the world’s foremost designers and creative minds, Stefan Sagmeister, The Happy Show will engage visitors from April 23 to September 7.
One of the largest exhibitions in MOV’s 120-year history, this astonishing experience will transcend the boundary between art and design and will take over museum galleries and in-between spaces—stairwells, hallways, and restrooms—in order to ask: what makes us happy?
Born in Austria in 1962, Sagmeister’s had a significant impact on design over the past decade, widely regarded for his keen eye when blending typography with imagery in strikingly original ways.
A multi-award winning artist—including two GRAMMY Awards and the Lucky Strike Designer Award, among many others—Sagmeister is co-founder of sought-after New York design firm, Sagmeister & Walsh. His resume boasts globally-recognized clients such as HBO, Levi’s, The Rolling Stones, Time Warner and the Guggenheim Museum. Sagmeister has delivered several popular TED talks on happiness and design, and has written numerous books including Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far, Made You Look, and Another Book about Promotion and Sales.
“The Happy Show arrives as the wellbeing of Metro Vancouver residents is at the forefront of attention. The Vancouver Foundation has recently reported that Lower Mainland residents feel lonely and isolated. Our local and provincial governments are now recognizing that social connection is crucial for personal happiness and for a thriving city,” says Gregory Dreicer, MOV Director of Curatorial and Engagement.
“This exhibition—masterfully created by Sagmeister—will delight visitors with works of art and design as it inspires them to reflect on their own lives.”
Sagmeister, who has documented his struggles with alcohol and drugs, weight gain, and depression, first conceptualized The Happy Show in an attempt to define and control his own happiness during a client-free sabbatical—a year-long break he takes every seven years to creatively recharge. The final display is the result of 10 years of research into his own personal happiness.
Confronted with stories about wellness, mindfulness, and sex, viewers will be immersed in an experience akin to walking into Sagmeister’s mind. The Happy Show is comprised of an array of engaging infographics, video projections, and interactive installations, including a stationary bike that powers a wall of neon, a giant inflatable monkey, and a series of gumball machines that displays visitors’ collective level of happiness.
Audiences will also enjoy a preview of Sagmeister’s soon-to-be-released documentary, The Happy Film, which depicts the artist’s attempts to increase his happiness through meditation, cognitive therapy, and mood-altering pharmaceuticals.
MOV will further engage visitors in a diverse array of public activities that extend The Happy Show into the community. Programs include a public symposium on ideas for happier communities led by one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject, UBC Professor John Helliwell, Happy Hours that will encourage Vancouverites to meet and inspire happiness through interaction, and a series of guerrilla street interventions that invite social connection.
Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show
Dates: April 23 to September 7
Venue: Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver
Tickets: Adults, $14; students (with valid ID) and seniors (65+), $11; youth 5 to 18, $8; available online and at the museum box office
Images courtesy Sagmeister Walsh.