Remember the Rudi Gernreich Archive? Consisting of accessories, garments, paper patterns, furniture, scrapbooks and other miscellaneous items, this collection demonstrates the breadth and depth of Rudi Gernrich's creativity. Our post Transforming the Rudi Gernreich Archive described some of the steps we've taken to ensure the continued preservation of this extensive and varied collection. Thanks to a generous grant from the Robert M. Adams Charitable Foundation, we've been able to begin intensive work with an important component of the archive, Rudi Gernreich's scrapbooks.
Rudi Gernreich's 32 scrapbooks consist primarily of press clippings. Because of his innovative, sometimes controversial designs Gernreich received extensive press throughout his career. As you can see from this image, the paper clippings were taped or glued to the page. With age, the tape has become extremely discolored, not to mention brittle.The paper of the clippings themselves has also deteriorated with age. Though nothing can be done to reverse this process, our goal is to prevent further damage. The page seen here features articles and correspondence related to Gernreich's notorious topless bathing suit.
The Adams Charitable Foundation supports a wide variety of organizations, including We Can Ride, Evergreen Foundation, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and others. We asked Robert M. Adams Charitable Foundation representative Julie Hawkins why she nominated the FIDM Museum for a grant. In Julie's words, "The Foundation was set up by my Grandmother, Carol Adams, in 1997 to honor the stuff of life my Grandfather [Robert M. Adams] was so passionate about: science and education." As a FIDM alum, Julie was familiar with the FIDM Museum and how our collection enriches the FIDM curriculum. She felt that our misson of preserving and documenting historic dress and textiles aligned with the goals of the Foundation. Like those of us who work in dress and textile museums, Julie believes that dress is an important historical document. We are grateful to Julie Hawkins and the Robert M. Adams Charitable Foundation for their support of the FIDM Museum.
The Adams Foundation grant has enabled us to hire freelance archivist Gail Stein to work with the Gernreich scrapbooks. In working with this collection, Gail's goal is to identify, preserve, house, and make available to researchers the press clippings currently contained in the Gernreich scrapbooks. With the help of two interns, Gail is processing each scrapbook. According to Gail, "removing an item from a scrapbook can be a meticulous procedure since the news clips/papers are either glued or taped onto pages; tape and glue are enemies to archiving." Gail's goal is to preserve the integrity of each clipping: "We try to keep each item intact; using x-acto knives, scissors and other tools, the news clips/papers are removed, and trimmed of any excess tape. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that items are affixed to both sides of each scrapbook page and we need to take precaution not to cut through to the other page while removing an item."
After removal from the scrapbooks, the press clippings "are housed in mylar, an acid free protector, and depending upon their size, are placed in an archival binder or in an archival box." Once the scrapbooks have been entirely dismantled, the contents of the scrapbooks will comprise one of the "Series" in the Rudi Gernreich Archive. The other Series will be: correspondence, patterns, sketches, costumes, photographs, posters, brochures and ephemera. The data will be cross-referenced. Information on a pattern, for example, will be cross-referenced to its actual garment, where indicated.
We'll keep you posted on the progress of this project!