Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:
You may have noticed that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City contains strange rooms. They are tucked away in the European Interiors section or back in the American Wing. These rooms do not display simply art or artifacts; they display other rooms. Or you could say that the rooms themselves are the display. In the American wing, you can see the interior of an old colonial house, or something tasteful from the Edwardian era. There is an entire living room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, originally part of the Little House in Wayzata, Minnesota. In the European section of the museum, the interiors give you a glimpse of palace life in the 17th century and the salons of the 18th century.
You stand at an open doorway, or perhaps gaze through a window at the interior within. You see another age, another way of life. These rooms are a throwback to another era of the museum, a time when travel was more difficult, when other forms of media were less sophisticated, when panoramas and stereoscopes and other such devices were a legitimate way to gain access to otherwise inaccessible experiences.
These display rooms are, in a sense, life-sized models, rooms in a one-to-one scale with actual places that once existed or, in fact, still exist in the real world. Indeed, the situation in these rooms is even one degree more complicated since many of the objects and pieces of furniture in the rooms are the real deal. That Louis XVI armoire is, in fact, a Louis XVI armoire and it did, once, sit in a room exactly like this one. Except that the room wasn't this one. The room is a fabrication meant to recreate the surroundings in which these real objects once existed.
I always find these rooms eerie and otherworldly for precisely these reasons. It is the mixture of reality and fabricated reality that creates a third space that seems neither of the museum nor of the world outside the museum's walls.