The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) will welcome Harnessing the Roots, an episode in the touring ‘Hermès Heritage’ exhibitions*. They explore the history and heritage of the house, founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, through a series of objects that highlight iconic themes, colours and motifs from the house’s origins as a harness-maker and saddler, until today.
After Once Upon a Bag, presented at the National Museum of Qatar in 2022, Harnessing the Roots focuses on harnesses and their metamorphoses. Because, over time, everything at Hermès changes – every mechanism, shape, type of attachment, suspension or clasp, initially conceived to equip a saddle or harness, is transmitted and transformed, playing a part in the design of a whole new object. Because lifestyles evolve, and with them the desires and needs of its customers.
How can this creative logic be communicated three-dimensionally and showcased in an exhibition? Bruno Gaudichon, the curator of La Piscine Museum of Art and Industry in Roubaix (France), and curator of Harnessing the Roots, and Laurence Fontaine, the scenographer, decided to arrange the objects by way of a thematic, rather than chronological, narrative in order to reveal the links and dialogue that have always existed between the objects. The five themes are: (1) Brides de Gala, (2) The Horse and its Tack, (3) The Saddle, (4) Buckled Up and (5) Ties and Straps.
All of the creations highlighted in the exhibition come from three distinct sources: (1) the Émile Hermès collection – a collection of treasures and small curiosities, located at the Hermès flagship at 24, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris (France), that Émile Hermès built up throughout his life, (2) the house’s Conservatory of creations, and (3) contemporary fashion, lifestyle and accessories collections. These objects are complemented by documentary archives and a film from 1962 in which Robert Dumas, heir and director of Hermès from 1951 to 1978, explains the art of saddle-making. It is this intertwining of materials, stories and techniques that reveals the fantasy and magic of Hermès.
*Once Upon a Bag, presented at the National Museum of Qatar in 2022, is an invitation to travel back and forth between past and present to discover bags that are both poetic and functional; In Motion presents objects that reflect the draw of the outdoors, a desire for fresh air, relaxation and travel; and Rouges Hermès exhibits Hermès’ attachment for shades of red and its palette of nuances.