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Wednesday, May 31 • 9:30am - 10:00am
(Textiles) Costume Loans: Challenges and Strategies

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When requesting a loan of costume objects for an exhibition, institutions unfamiliar with exhibiting garments and accessories may underestimate the amount of time and work involved in preparing and installing these types of objects. Imagine a courier arrives at your institution with a costume ensemble for your exhibition, and the mannequin you've provided is too big around the waist. Or there's no head for the hat, and wait—this ensemble doesn't come with shoes?! Now imagine you are that courier, and on a tight deadline to install. Mounting a costume on a mannequin is much different than hanging a painting on a wall. But, with careful planning and preparation on the part of both the lender and borrower, a successful loan of costume is possible. This paper will offer strategies for lenders and borrowers to avoid potential costume loan pitfalls related to packing, mounting, installation, and display. Exhibiting costume has its own set of unique challenges and requirements, and this paper will detail those challenges and provide strategies for dealing with each one. Methods for packing garments for travel will be discussed, as well as standard display requirements for costume. Choosing a suitable mannequin or dress form will be addressed, keeping in mind not only the size of the garment but also the appropriate body shape for the time period. Accessories, both as museum objects themselves, as well as props to complete a total look, will also be discussed. The goal is to not only keep the objects safe during travel, installation, and display, but also to ensure the proper appearance of the ensemble. Of course, all of this takes time; this paper will aim to help in estimating the time required for preparing costumes for travel and exhibition. Examples of courier experiences at costume loan installations will provide insight into the types of issues that can arise. While much of museum loan arrangements are handled by registrars and curatorial staff, it's important that conservators and installers are included in loan discussions from the beginning, and participate in the decision making process. With so many variables, lending and borrowing costume often requires problem solving, as no two loans are the same. This paper will provide a set of guidelines to serve as a starting point for institutions without much experience in borrowing or lending costume for exhibition.

avatar for Cassandra Gero

Cassandra Gero

Assistant Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Cassandra Gero is an Assistant Conservator for The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where her main focus is preparing objects for interdepartmental and outgoing loans. She previously worked in the Collections department of the Costume Institute, and also at the... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 9:30am - 10:00am CDT
Crystal Ballroom C Lobby Level, West Tower