Last October I traveled to Athens, Georgia to the Georgia Museum of Art. They were having a special exhibition on Emilio Pucci and the business relationships he had with firms in the United States. Pucci had spent some time as a student at the University of Georgia, also located in Athens, and so an exhibition about his US relationships seemed appropriate.
While the museum did not allow photos for this show, they did provide a nice place to sit and sketch. I’ve talked about sketching in museums before, and unfortunately, it is not always possible to sit with a pencil and paper and draw. Some museums don’t have benches, and others are so crowded that trying to sketch is impossible.
If I’m visiting a new-to-me museum, I will usually take my sketchbook and pencils, but I never know until I get inside if the place is drawer friendly. I also take a small notebook, because sketchy notes are sometimes all that is possible. From my notes and from photos (hopefully ones I was able to take) I then do my journal entry at home. In this case I was able to do the main sketching onsite and then I finished it when I returned home.
There is an excellent article in the latest Dress journal from the Costume Society of America about fashion displays in museums and the problems associated with displaying on a static form clothing that was meant to be seen on a moving human body. Author Ingrid Mida brings up some very interesting points about how different it is to see a garment on a mannequin than it is to see it on a human body.
In the not too distant past it was considered to be okay for museum garments to be worn by models, but today it is against museum and preservation standards. Museums attempt to make the clothes more dynamic by showing video of the clothing in action, and even, as in the case of the recent John Paul Gautier exhibition, by using animated mannequins. I can see why this would add to the understanding of a garment by people who are viewing it in a museum.
At this point I’ve been to dozens of fashion exhibitions, and to be honest, I just expect to see static forms displaying the clothing. But then, I’m all about taking a close look at the garment and noting the details. We all take something different from an exhibition, whether it be clothing or painting or furniture. At this point I’m just glad that fashion is being seen as worthy of exhibition. I can remember a time when clothing exhibitions were very rare indeed.