I recently worked on a secret knitting project (also known as deadline knitting). Once I was done my arm was bothering me so I gave myself two weeks off from knitting. This meant that I had time to do other things! I got reacquainted with my sewing machine and worked on some new designs for project bags. And I had the pleasure of going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a behind the scenes tour sponsored by the NYU Women's Initiative.
We spent some time looking at the textiles at the Antonio Ratti Textile Center and we learned about the restoration process at the Costume Institute. I want to thank fellow tour participant, Rachael Jones, for providing me with her pictures for this blog post - I had checked my belongings and didn't have my camera with me.
Giovanna Fiorino-Iannace, the director of the Ratti Center provided an insightful tour. We learned about the use of different materials (i.e. metal thread) and what it takes to put together an exhibit. The staff had chosen beautiful items that we could examine up close:
These shoes that were worn by women who had bound feet. The shoes were tiny, maybe 5 inches long which is smaller than a dollar bill. Foot binding became popular and was adopted as a symbol of beauty in Chinese culture. Since these women were not expected to work or do much walking it was assumed they came from well-to-do families. The practice started to die out in the early 20th century.
My favorite item is this robe, the embroidery work on this item is amazing. Very fine thread was used and it was extremely detailed, right down to the facial features of the characters.
Using Google's image search I found a similar image that has more detail (Photo from the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco). Similar but different.
Alice in Wonderland quilt by Story Book Quilts (Marion Whiteside Newton)
The Alice in Wonderland quilt intrigued me, so much so that I found several articles about the quilter who made and designed it, Marion Whiteside Newton. There is an entry to Quilt Index which talks about Newtown but the photos do not display. This article discusses Newton's life and how Story Book Quilts was her business - she designed the quilts and sold them as kits by placing ads in women magazines.
The second part of our tour took us to The Costume Institute where Miriam Murphy and Sarah Scaturro spoke to us about the restoration process for upcoming exhibit items. We had a discussion about mannequins and how the costumes are never displayed flat. We even asked for cleaning tips for our modern clothes! Some of the items are for upcoming exhibits and we were asked not to take photos of them. But I have to say that clothing provides a wonderful look into history.