Dani Killam, Assistant Registrar, wrote this post about the process of packing an exhibit for shipment to another museum. To read more about how we organize and prep for this process, read our recent post Traveling in High Style.
“It’s a puzzle!” This phrase is often used in the FIDM Museum office when talking about organizing the collection. The packing and shipping process for High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and Haute Couture was no exception. Packing each box offered its own unique challenge, while still fitting within the larger puzzle. All the crates were finally shipped out to the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts last week. It took two full weeks of non-stop packing to complete the hands-on task of getting all objects ready for the trip across country. High Style will be on exhibit at the ATHM from August 14, 2010 until January 2, 2011.
The shipment consisted of framed works of different sizes, loose ephemera, miscellaneous items and the actual garments that all needed particular and separate attention during the packing process. Once it was determined which box and in what order the garment was going to be packed, there was a quick discussion as to what the garment required for optimal storage during shipment. This green chiffon gown by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior seemed like it was to be one of the easier pieces to pack because of its silhouette and space requirements.
However, the design element of sequins and their placement on the gown caused the need for extra attention. To avoid snags and tears in the delicate chiffon, which can be caused by abrading against sequins, a layer of soft abaca tissue was placed between sequins and the layered chiffon wherever necessary. This simple step in the packing process contradicts the original design of the garment because the gown was worn with the sequins exposed to the chiffon. This helps to demonstrate how we must look at objects in a different light when it comes to packing and collections management in the museum field.
Betsy Bloomingdale wore this yellow ensemble by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior when she and her husband hosted a Twist dance party in the late 1960s. The metallic thread and bead embroidery, created by Lesage, required special abaca tissue placement. Twill tape helped to secure the abaca at certain portions so that the trim would not be exposed to the nylon crepe. We literally protected the garment from itself.
Now we wait for Kevin Jones (Curator) and Christina Johnson (Associate Curator/Collections Manager) to install the pieces later this month, and report back to Meghan and I on our packing job.