Vintage Miscellany – August 25, 2019

1932. It’s almost chilly here in the Western North Carolina mountains so maybe fall really is on the way. Here’s my dream hiking ensemble: snappy pullover sweater, rolled cuff trousers, high laced boots, and a hat that’s part tam, part beret with hair neatly tucked away inside. Was she posing, or simply caught in a pensive moment?

And now for some news…

When I first started writing this blog around fifteen years ago, most museums I visited did not allow visitors to take photos, so I carried a sketchbook to record the highlights of fashion exhibitions. Today, most museums do allow photos, due mainly, I’d think, to social media. When people started documenting every small detail of their lives on Facebook and Twitter (and later Instagram) museums very quickly realized that every post on these sites was free advertising.

There are still plenty of people who object to the practice, saying that the photo has become more important than the experience. To some degree I agree with that thought. We’ve all seen people rushing through a museum or historic site, camera in hand, ready to get that perfect Instagram shot.

I try to use a strategy when visiting an exhibition that I want to photograph for this blog. Ideally, I view the entire exhibition, reading the show notes and absorbing the message the curator is trying to put out there. Only after looking and thinking and studying, I go back and take photos of what best tells the story.

This strategy works best where an exhibition is located all in one area of the site or museum. Often, in house museums like the Biltmore Estate, it’s just not reasonable to take the photos separately from the first viewing. Things are just too scattered about. But I do find I learn more and see more when I have the opportunity to look at an object twice.

 

9 Comments

Filed under Museums, Vintage Miscellany

9 responses to “Vintage Miscellany – August 25, 2019

  1. Enjoyed every link! I’m not that far from PEM north of Boston – will definitely get to the Iris Apfel show. PEM is my favorite large museum in the Boston area (more than the MFA, really). Interesting that she gave her collection to a museum outside of NYC/fashion center.

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  2. It’s really the best tactic, your way of doing it. To view the whole thing, then photograph the most salient points. But as you say, it’s just not always feasible.

    p.s. Some historic sites/museums, for whatever reason, don’t allow dressing up. Others (such as Versailles) allow it only on specific, rare, designated days each year. It’s always best to call first to confirm, before showing up in historic dress and being turned away.

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  3. I shopped at Mary Jo’s! A wonderland for fabric. How sad it’s closing.

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  4. Re: photos — yes, the annoyance factor is very real. But there used to be a criticism that the flash would damage the art. (Or is that an old wives’ tale?) I remember my visit to the San Jose quilt museum. I was with an online friend (who passed away a couple of years after that) and wanted a photo. We asked a docent to snap our picture, which she did. Then the Dragon Lady Staff Member shot out of her office and told us that was verboten. Well, it was film and it was too late.

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