Pharrell’s Grammys Hat Now a Work of Art
Pharrell's Vivienne Westwood hat – now owned by Arby's – will be on display at the Newseum in Washington D.C until late October
The hat that launched a thousand tweets is now going on temporary display at the Newseum, the museum of news and journalism, in Washington D.C. The Vivienne Westwood hat, made famous by Pharrell Williams, and now owned by fast food chain Arby’s, will be on display in the New York Times Great Hall of News as a testament to the power of social media.
When Pharrell debuted the hat at the Grammy’s back in February, the musician was sure to know that it would set Twitter alight with commentary. Many noted the similarities between the designer hat and the logo of Arby’s, the fast food company known for their roast beef sandwichs. Arby’s then took the opportunity to jump on the conversation with an unexpected, yet rather amusing tweet, which received over 80,000 retweets.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) January 27, 2014
After wearing the hat out and about at a couple events, Pharrell grew tired of the cumbersome headgear, and decided to auction it off on eBay for to raise money for From One Hand to Another, his charity that develops learning programs for underserved youth in at-risk communities. He continued the Twitter conversation with Arby’s, promising them they could get their hat back if they put their money where their mouth is.
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) February 21, 2014
And Arby’s did just that, bidding $44,100 for the hat, and later revealing on Twitter that it was them that did so. The entire hat saga may not have happened were it not for the unique public, conversational format of Twitter.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) March 3, 2014
The Newseum is one of the country’s premier museums dedicated to news and journalism. The loan of the hat by Arby’s is particularly fitting to the 2014 news moment, where news is broken, followed and regurgitated on social media. Indeed, in this case, a newsworthy story was created through the social media interaction between Pharrell, Arby’s and their respective followers. Cathy Trost, senior vice president of exhibits and programs at the Newseum explains the reason behind displaying the hat:
This newsmaking hat represents the power of social media to connect people around the globe to events as they are happening.
Pharrell’s – ahem – Arby’s hat will be on display until October 26th. Fittingly, the chain announced the loan to the museum via social media platforms Twitter and Vine.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) August 18, 2014