Fashion Forward: Costume and Textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Haugland, H. Kristina
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The Philadelphia Museum of Art, foundedin 1876, is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States, with an encyclopedic collection of 225,000 objects. The Costume and Textiles Department operates as part of this multi-faceted institution, with a collection that comprises nearly 30,000 objects, about evenly divided between costume and textiles. This article explores the Museum’s history and current practices of collecting and exhibiting textiles, historic costume, and contemporary fashion. In the main building, occasional major presentations in the Special Exhibition Galleries highlight aspects of the department’s collection; objects are also rotated in a small gallery in the European Wing and featured in the context of other galleries. In 2007,the department moved into the Hamilton Center for Costume and Textiles in the Museum’s Perelman Building, affording many new opportunities. Two galleries in this building are devoted to costume and textiles, and the facilities includestate-of-the-art collection storage, conservation lab, workrooms, and offices that enhance the careand research of the collection. In addition, a newCostume and Textiles Study Room has increasedthe accessibility of collection objects to scholars, students, and others.
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