The four-week installation of the touring exhibition Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015 was one of the most complex that I have ever been involved in. At the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), we displayed over 130 ensembles and single garments, primarily from the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which was an edited version of the original exhibition first shown at LACMA in 2016.
The curators of the exhibition, Sharon Takeda, Kaye Spilker and Clarissa Esguerra, wanted to present as many full ensembles as possible, something they achieved by combining garments and accessories authentic to the style or period or by acquiring a contemporary designer’s complete runway look. The LACMA team made or commissioned reproduction components such as shirts, hats, collars, neck ties, stockings, and even wigs, which were customised for each outfit. Some of the ensembles comprised up to twelve parts. In total, over 400 museum objects (mostly clothes and accessories) were shipped to MAAS in addition to hundreds of reproduction pieces, along with 100 mannequins and numerous display forms.
LACMA sent a team of six colleagues to Sydney for the installation (two curators, a textile conservator, collection manager, costume and textiles installation specialist, and a curatorial fellow). They worked alongside a team of ten MAAS colleagues and external contractors with additional help brought in at different stages.
This blog captures some of the moments over the four-week installation period from the day when the crates were unpacked through to the opening night on 1 May. For further information on the exhibition themes and content, visit the exhibition in Sydney before 14 October 2018, read this blog by the LACMA curators and an article by Professor Peter McNeil from University of Technology, Sydney.
Roger Leong, Senior Curator