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The Museum at FIT is one of a select group of specialized fashion museums, including the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda. For the 100,000 people who visit The Museum at FIT each year, we work to create exhibitions, programs, and publications that both entertaining and educational. The mission of the Museum is to collect, conserve, document, exhibit, and interpret fashion. Founded in 1969, the Museum was installed in the current building in 1974, and exhibitions began to be presented in 1975.
The Museum is best known for its innovative and award winning special exhibitions, including London Fashion, which received the first Richard Martin Award for Excellence in the Exhibition of Costume from the Costume Society of America; The Corset: Fashioning the Body, which explored the most controversial garment in the history of fashion; and Madame Grès: The Sphinx of Fashion, a monographic retrospective that examined the working methodologies and unique aesthetic contributions of a great couturier. Recently, the Museum has been mounting even more ambitious exhibitions, such as Gothic: Dark Glamour and Japan Fashion Now.
The Museum’s permanent collection now encompasses some 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present. Important designers such as Adrian, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Dior are represented. The collecting policy of the Museum focuses on aesthetically and historically significant “directional” clothing, accessories, textiles and visual materials, with emphasis on contemporary avant-garde fashion.
There are three galleries in the Museum. The lower level gallery is devoted to special exhibitions, such as the forthcoming Daphne Guinness. The Fashion and Textile History Gallery, on the main floor, which provides on-going historical context, presents a rotating selection of approximately 200 historically and artistically significant objects from the Museum’s permanent collection. Every six months, the exhibition in the gallery is completely changed, although it always covers 250 years of fashion history.
Gallery FIT, also located on the main floor, is dedicated to student and faculty exhibitions, such as the Art and Design Graduating Student Exhibition every May, which also fills the lower level gallery and lobbies across campus. Students from FIT's School of Graduate Studies also collaborate with the Museum's staff to mount a professional museum exhibition once a year.
We invite you to gain an intriguing perspective on the culture of fashion through the Museum's engaging programs and publications. Our educational programming, Fashion Culture, includes free lectures, panel discussions, fashion conversations, and guided tours. The Museum’s most ambitious program, the annual Fashion Symposium, features noted scholars, authors, and curators from around the world.
In addition to its three exhibition galleries, the Museum is composed of a conservation laboratory, photographic studio, workshop, more than 10,000 square feet of on-site storage space, three classrooms, and offices for 30 full-time employees. Members of the staff of The Museum at FIT have specialized skills in the conservation, documentation, exhibition, and interpretation of fashion.