5 hours ago
Friday, March 6, 2009
This may not be news, but I recently found out that the Brooklyn Museum's extensive and recently-catalogued costume collection is going to be transferred to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can find the press release here. I had fantasized about the collection going to the Museum at FIT, for which I have a fondness (especially because it's free). Regardless, I'm sure this will be a huge boost to the Costume Institute.
What I'm most excited about is that four thousand of the pieces from the collection have been chosen for photography, presentation through ARTstor (my fave), publishing in a catalog, and online display on a special section of the Met's website. There is also to be an exhibition next year of the Brooklyn pieces, which is going to be the beginning of a series of activities outlined in the press release. Quite the to-do!
I'm excited to see what the collection transfer will do for researchers and students. Apparently the Brooklyn museum will retain its non-Western costumes and non-fashion textiles. That leaves me wondering about any non-fashion attire. The press release makes no distinction between fashion and costume, which is easier for most people to understand but imprecise. Costume is a term used for the attire and aspects of personal appearance (which together make up "dress") particular to a culture or region. Fashion is the progression of styles in dress that are widespread and short-lived. Sometimes we wear fashionable clothing and sometimes we don't; military uniforms, work clothes, traditional attire are dress, but not fashion.
My guess is that if they have any of these items in their collection, they will remain at Brooklyn, as the Costume institute already has plenty of dress pieces in their collection. What do you think? How do you feel about the relationship between dress and fashion? Do you think exhibits of "dress" get sidelined since fashion is a sexier topic? Do curators outside the fashion world even have a clue?
Photo: A "Harvey Girl" uniform on display (dress, not fashion!) at the Arizona Railroad Museum. Taken by Jot Powers, 5/2005.