Spotlight on Fashion Curator’s Blogs

A fashion curator blogging?

I’ve been stuck at home following a small operation this past month, and it has been nearly four whole weeks since I visited a museum. It’s terribly frustrating because there are so many exciting exhibitions on in London right now, and even more on the horizon.  I’ll be visiting and covering a myriad of shows in the coming weeks as I am back on my feet, but before I get out and go on a reviewing frenzy, I thought I’d take you on a virtual tour behind the scenes courtesy of the growing number of curator’s blogs popping up on museum websites.  I read these regularly, but during my time homebound, I really took time to follow them and to revel in and appreciate the work of dress and arts curators at some of my favourite places to visit.

Screenshot from the Royal Wedding Dresses video clip

First, a peek at the blog and news page of the Historic Royal Palaces. This site has been recently updated to include a blog on Royal Wedding Fashion with information on the Royal Wedding Dresses in their collection, some of which were featured in my post on the topic two weeks back. As media surrounding the upcoming Royal Nuptials reaches a fever pitch, renewed curiosity in wedding fashion of the past can be sated by the detailed information and an exquisite video narrated by Dr Joanna Marschner, Senior Curator.  The text of the blog is rather didactic, not dissimilar from museum texts, but the video reveals the stories of the dresses in the eloquent words of Dr. Marschner. Here we see the museum curator as a knowledgeable and serene figure, and a loving keeper of treasured artifacts with a poignant relevance to contemporary culture.

At the V&A, curators of temporary special exhibitions post blogs on the process and progress of blockbuster projects in the lead-up to their opening.  These blogs are real in-depth behind-the-scenes views of what it takes to plan and mount major costume and multi-disciplinary exhibitions.  Currently, blogs are live for Yohji Yamamoto and The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900.  Both of these faithfully chart the exhibition journeys in the unique and honest voices of the people at the forefront of making them a reality.

Preparations for Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A

Curator of Contemporary Programmes Ligaya Salazar, takes the reader on a tour of the Yohji Yamamoto exhibition’s development from concept to opening, with posts on such exciting milestones as research trips to Japan, the experience of interviewing Yohji, and being on set for a photo shoot with Nick Knight. Yet, Ligaya does not not neglect to describe some of the mundanities and challenges of curating fashion, such as establishing the exhibition framework and choosing mannequins.

From the Cult of Beauty Blog - Liberty & Co., Dress, about 1894. V&A: T.56-1976

For the Cult of Beauty exhibition, Assistant Curator Esme Whitaker, weaves a glowing tapestry of the development and realisation of the show, embroidered with stories of the magic moments in the creative process.  Her photos of the preparations and installations speak of the honest excitement and anticipation felt by those working behind the scenes to bring the past to light.

A mystery artifact from Beatrice Behlen's Museum of London blog

Finally, we surf over to the Museum of London, where Senior Curator of Dress and Decorative Art, Beatrice Behlen writes a regular and enchanting blog on the day to day activities and extraordinary discoveries of the department.  The eloquently casual and perennially witty tone of Beatrice’s posts make her discovery of treasures such as an 18th century travelling writing set, or a moroccan leather shoe laden with miniature fashion dolls seem like a shared experience of wonder.  As Beatrice researches and shares her findings on these artifacts, she gives the reader a real insight into the working life of the museum and the scope of its collections.  Along the way she also dispels some myths about dress curators, and yet may be indeed inspiring more people to pursue a similar career.

So, when you can’t make it over to your favorite museums, be thankful you are in the digital age, when our thirst for “behind-the-scenes reality” can be quenched by the honest words of museum curators who are at the forefront of embracing new technologies for keeping history alive, and inspiring curiosity that will reach far into the future.

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1 Comment

  • Ellen April 28, 2011 06.19 am

    Great post! I love seeing the behind-the-scenes of exhibitions!


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