Installing “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity”

The exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” has just opened at the Art Institute of Chicago and I had the honor and pleasure of participating in the installation as a courier. I have already posted  about the preparation of the loans in these earlier blog posts about selecting, photographing and packing. This post will cover the installation at the Art Institute.

I am putting the finishing touches on the collar before the blue dress is moved into her case.
I am putting the finishing touches on the collar before the blue dress is moved into her case.

After the exhibition closed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I traveled to New York to take the loan pieces off the mannequins and pack them. The box with our two garments traveled in a shipment along with other pieces from New York to Chicago. When I got to the Art Institute, the box had safely arrived and was waiting for me.

The only hiccup in the installation process occurred as we performed the condition report on the blue dress. The original lining of the bodice is black silk which has begun to shatter. The area around the shoulders has a number of tears and loss. The textile conservator at the Art Institute, Lauren Chang, and I discussed the situation and decided that she should cover the degrading lining with a layer of black silk to contain the losses.

Once the conservation work was completed I was able to finish dressing the dress as well as the suit. There was a space set aside for mannequin dressing which allowed the AIC staff and couriers to spread out without being in the way of installation. My work dressing the mannequins took 2 days. On the first day I dressed the suit and resolved the conservation issues with the dress.Then on the second day I dressed the blue dress and the mannequins were positioned into their cases.

The staff at AIC was wonderful and the installation went smoothly and efficiently. I spent almost as much time photographing the whole process as I did dressing the mannequins. I can’t wait to get back and see the finished exhibition.

Sara Hume, Curator


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