Behind It All: Observations of an Exhibit Installation
The installation of Missouri History Museum's upcoming Underneath It All exhibition is well under way. Risers have been placed around the outer wall, providing the perfect height to view the "models" as they strut their stuff through the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries of women's fashion. With the "runway" constructed, exhibition curator Shannon Meyer and exhibition registrar Amy Berra transport the artifacts/costumes from the Museum's storage facility to the exhibition gallery.
Exhibition designer Diane Riley refers to her carefully prepared layout to bring the three-dimensional space to life. Every flat wall space has a purpose planned out, but with bulky and heavy items like mannequins draped in delicate fabric, it is not enough to put things in their "place." Rather, each mannequin needs plenty of space. And because the many layers of certain period dresses are too complex to showcase on one figure, the model is "undressed" over the course of several mannequins. Each layer is equally important in creating the silhouette.
Smaller items have their place too, usually inside tall glass cases to protect them from curious fingers. In the Museum's workshop, preparator Louis Mainieri constructs wire stands for articles of clothing that cannot stand on their own. Usually this means creating a unique solution to displaying something no one living has worn or handled. Visitors will be able to see the results of these efforts when the exhibit opens on June 30. In the meantime, please enjoy this slideshow of the installation.
—Bobby Watson, Museum intern