In just over three weeks, our annual exhibition of film costumes opens! On February 11, 2014, The 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition opens to the public. This year's exhibition will include costumes from more than 20 films, including costumes from the 2013 Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design, Anna Karenina, designed by Jacqueline Durran. Visitors will also see costumes from four of this year's Academy Award nominees for Best Costume: American Hustle, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman, and 12 Years a Slave.
Prepping for this exhibition is a huge task, requiring organization, collaboration, and vision. From building and painting gallery walls, to prepping mannequins, unpacking loaned costumes, and ensuring all the pieces work together...there's a lot to do! To guarantee that you see a flawless, engaging display of costumes on Feb. 11, we have to make every minute count.
We reconfigure our gallery for each and every exhibition. We not only repaint the walls—sometimes we move the walls! In the image above, a Museum staffer builds a new wall. In the background, you can see the low platforms we use to display garments and a wall which will divide groupings of film costumes. Gallery layouts and color schemes are unique to each exhibition; read more about the design process in our 2012 post on exhibition design.
In order to mount this exhibition, we borrow film costumes from near and far. In some cases, costume designers retain their costumes, so we work directly with the designer to borrow their creations. In other cases, film studios maintain ownership of costumes. Costumes are sometimes borrowed from rental houses like LA's Western Costume or London's Cosprop. In rare cases, actors maintain an archive of their film wardrobes.
We borrowed Mako Mori's Pacific Rim Jaeger pilot suit from Legendary Films. It arrived in a custom built crate, seen above. Legendary Films archives staff helped us uncrate and install the costume. Designed by Kate Hawley, the helmet contains LED lights that will be illuminated during the exhibition.
Not every costume arrives in a giant crate. Most costumes arrive in boxes, or if they come from a local source, they might be delivered in garment bags. Below, Ilana unpacks a hat from Oz the Great and Powerful. Designed by Gary Jones, this oversized hat was worn by Mila Kunis as Theodora.
Frequent readers will know that we focus a lot on mannequins. That's because they're important! As the foundation for every garment we display, they can make or break an exhibition. For more on this, see our recent post on styling mannequins for museum exhibitions. Here, our two Danielles pose with a freshly painted mannequin. Mannequins "age" too, and a fresh coat of paint makes them exhibition-ready.
Want to see the fruits of our labor? Visit The 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition from February 11–April 26, 2014. This dazzling display of costumes will be open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10am until 5pm. As always, we offer free admission to all visitors. See you in the gallery!