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"American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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  • Byron Connell
    We went to New York City this weekend to see the new costume exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity. If
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 6, 2010
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      We went to New York City this weekend to see the new costume exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity." If you have any interest in the history of women's dress in America from about 1890 to 1945, run -- do not walk! -- to the Met to see this fabulous exhibit. As posted on the Sick Pups' Web site (www.sickpupsnot.org), it runs until August 15 and the Met is open six days a week (except Mondays). The exhibit is in the Cantor Exhibition Hall on the 2nd floor, not in the Costume Institute space in the basement, so it is both extensive and well-displayed.

      This is a large and important exhibit. It is the first to make use of the costume items added to the Met's collection when it took over the Brooklyn Museum's costume collection a few years ago. It is organized in thematic "rooms," by time periods: "heiresses," evening dress at the turn of the last century; "Gibson Girls," day and sport wear in the same period; "Suffragettes," day wear and women's uniforms of the 1910s; "Flappers," both day and evening wear of the '20s; and "the Screen Siren," evening wear from or inspired by the golden age of Hollywood, 1930-1945. Among the more memorable dresses on display are an 1898 House of Worth ball gown with butterflies and Anna May Wong's "dragon dress" (by Travis Banton) from her 1934 film, "Limehouse Blues."

      There is a parallel exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, "American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection"; unfortunately, we weren't able to get to it. However, the Met's book, "High Style: Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art," serves as a catalog of both exhibits.

      This one is well worth a trip to Manhattan.

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