Curator’s Catch-22

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have in our collection some exceptional 1920s dresses. Two dresses and a cape are going on exhibit in May as part of our Mend Our Broken Art conservation campaign.

The conservation fee for each textile includes funds for the construction of a custom mannequin. Custom mannequins are a crucial part of preservation and they are typically built by conservators over many months. Keep this in mind.

As the exhibit approaches, I find myself in a curator’s Catch-22. In order for the dresses to be displayed properly (and to keep them from being damaged further), they must be mounted on custom mannequins. However, the only way the dresses will ever have custom mannequins is by going on display. The dresses must go on display to be adopted. Aaaand, therefore, the dresses must be adopted to be properly displayed.

Follow me?

In a moment of extreme frustration I sent a desperate email to the Registrar at the Chrysler Museum, Molly Marder, asking her for help. I’m not positive but I think my message read something like  “OMG HELP MANNEQUINS WHHYYYYY.” She wrote back calmly saying yes, they had some mannequins in storage and yes, we could borrow them. Success!

Last week Colin, Molly and I  journeyed deep into the bowels of Chrysler storage to dig out the mannequins. I’m not sure if we were in the basement or the attic, but I’m fairly certain we crossed a moat.  Once arrived, we dug through coffin-sized boxes of dismembered limbs until we had three complete bodies. It was an adventure of epic proportions, and thankfully Molly documented each step along the way:

You have a blue foot? Well, I found a red leg.

Shaking hands, making friends.

Like I said: I think we passed over a moat.

Many, many thanks to Molly and the rest of the folks at the Chrysler for loaning suitable mannequins. I’ll be sure to bring my torch and miner’s helmet for the return trip.

Stay tuned for a mannequin update: this time fully clothed!

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One thought on “Curator’s Catch-22

  1. Hey I recognize that place! Spent many an hour in the creepy attic organizing membership brochures. Glad the mannequins can see the light of day.

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