I’ve just come back from an afternoon in New York. Not literally, you understand, but virtually, courtesy of the world wide web.
Now the effervescence of New Year and Christmas have subsided like a flute of flat champagne and January stretches ahead bleak and ordinary, I thought I’d take a virtual vacation and catch a couple of costume exhibitions halfway across the world.
Now many museums allow you to access their collection of digital objects using a search function, which is an amazing resource if you’re looking for something in particular (such as a 1790s men’s silk brocade banyan) but can be overwhelming if you just want to sit back with a cup of coffee and be inspired. So much more enjoyable then are “online exhibit” experiences, like those created by Fashion Institute of Technology and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (both in New York). From the comfort and economy of our couch those of us who can’t make the trip can interact with beautiful images, informative manageable text and sometimes even podcasts and video. All praise and thanks to museums who put their exhibits online, enabling far-flung visitors to appreciate, learn from and admire them!
FIT’s past exhibition list can be found here. Exhibitions with “visit the online exhibit” links will open up a beautifully put together interactive experience (it’s not always obvious what you can click on- sometimes mousing over or clicking on images will open up new pages). Check out the current Gothic: Dark Glamour (if at work you may wish to mute your speakers- you have been warned!) and Madame Gres: Sphinx of Fashion. FIT also have exhibits online in galleries by time period and allow you to access the flash version of garments, ie. zoom in reeeeeally close.
Check out the Met’s list of past exhibitions here. Clicking on each past exhibition will present you with different options, including podcasts, images and video. I was intrigued by computer animations of garment construction in the Poiret King of Fashion video, and the images of Grecian draping in the Goddess exhibit.
Have a good trip.