They came dressed in their pajamas. Dozens of them. Last Saturday night, about 90 people entered the Rubin Museum of Art — a young museum devoted to exploring ancient Tibetan art, Buddhist philosophy, and modern scientific research — to sleep and dream, and have their dreams explained by psychoanalysts after they woke. Participants slept underneath works of art specifically chosen for them. They were told to bring their own bedding and toiletries. While some sought personal insight with the potential for future enlightenment, others simply wanted something unusual to do over the weekend.
A giant slumber party for adults, which organizers titled a “Dream-Over”, The Rubin’s event, which was the first of its kind, encouraged attendees to stop observing and start participating — albeit through slumber.
Shortly after 9:00pm, participants began to arrive. Most were women. They were immediately escorted to a reserved space on one of the museum’s six floors and introduced to the painting or statute they’d be spending the night with. They were told to get acquainted. “In a way, this is a blind date with a piece of art,” said Dawn Eshelman, programming manager at the Rubin, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
Some meditated, some took notes, some looked and wondered. Weeks prior, participants had signed a waiver that required them to disclose important life occurrences and their favorite color. Event coordinators then used this information to match each participant with a work that both parties hoped would bring about the most vivid dreaming. Despite the palpable excitement, the museum was quiet. The general attitude remained reverent amongst the abundance of strangers in nightgowns and sleeping bags.