museums

Collecting Indigenous Mesoamerican Dress

So this is winter in Southern California.  Do I still get to use seasonal hibernation as my excuse for a lengthy writing hiatus?

The truth is, as the first Anawalt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Regional Dress, I’ve been deep in the archives and object collections at UCLA’s Fowler Museum preparing for two projects.  The first is a course I’ll be teaching this spring in UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures Department, “Collecting Indigenous Mesoamerican Dress.”  The second related project is an exhibition addressing the same theme set to open at the Fowler in 2017. 

What is Glamour? (part 2 of 2)

In part 1 of “What is Glamour?” I said glamour is characterized by aloofness and distance in performance.  Yet there is more to glamour than being removed from one’s audience.  Generating a measure of mystery and inspiring interest also characterize glamour.  Further, all of this must be balanced with the appropriate appearance.  There is no fixed visual lexicon for what constitutes the right appearance yet one can expect heightened theatricality, originality, attention to details, and polish.

Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Neoliberalism

Hello Kitty coin purse
The first Hello Kitty merchandise released in 1974.

City of Angels and Artifacts: Part 2

Hollywood costumes have long been a piece of a larger commercial enterprise. Whether well or poorly constructed, whether expensive or cheap, whether iconic or forgettable, film costumes are production assets.  From a commercial point of view, a costume that can deliver many times over is a worthwhile investment.  Hence, costumes are used, re-used, and reconfigured for maximum value.

City of Angels and Artifacts: Part 1

Hollywood Costume is a museum exhibition curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  Since the exhibit first opened in 2012, it has traveled to Australia, Virginia, Arizona, and, on October 2, 2014, to Los Angeles, California where it will be until March 2, 2015.

The "Big Top" Exhibit

In the US we often think of museums as rarefied places brimming with all that a culture values.  Perhaps even the museum space itself is an impressive Beaux Arts beast of a building or, better still, a symphonic Frank Gehry structure singing its siren song to passersby.  Though the architecture may be seductive, increasingly pricey museum tickets are not typically spontaneous purchases like chewing gum at the grocery checkout.

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