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Afternoon Delight: King for a Day
by Jerome Weeks 7 Mar 2011

Art museums just don’t do enough to capitalize on their holdings — like holding celebrity autograph signings with monarchs who’ve been dead for 400 years.


Afternoon Delight is a daily diversion for when you’re just back from lunch, but not quite ready to get back to work. Check back tomorrow at 1 p.m. for another one.

Improv Everywhere, the people behind this art-museum prank, were the folks who brought us Frozen Grand Central and, most famously, all those Spontaneous Musicals.

So OK, it’s probably easy enough to pull off this sort of amusing ‘celebrity autograph signing’ spoof (“He’s 400 years old … he looks great, doesn’t he?”) when you have someone who resembles King Phillip IV of Spain and will stand in front of the famous (and recently restored) Velazquez portrait at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art — at least until the guards come.

But just try it with, say, Picasso’s portrait of the Infanta Margarita Maria from Velazquez’ Las Meninas: