Museum Monday: Online Patterns of Eighteenth Century Garments from LACMA’s Collection

Speaking as a museum professional and a living history practitioner, what a great project.

Theatrical designer Thomas John Bernard and Curatorial Assistant Clarissa Esguerra work with the collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photo credit: LACMA.

At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s web page, conservators and curators worked with Thomas John Bernard, a theatrical designer, to create gridded patterns of four eighteenth century men’s garments, offered online at no charge. This effort both shares the construction information of four extant garments as well as reveals the museum at work. Those of us who are collection managers know that all our preservation efforts are only as good as the access to collections that preservation affords. If providing patterns of these objects online reduces the need for handling by some researchers, then progress in the preservation of that object has been made.  Certainly, costs involved included time spent working with the objects, drawing the patterns, dressing the objects and photographing them (perhaps done in the past for another exhibition), and web development. But creating and sharing these patterns and notes online shares the knowledge acquired during one researchers visit, multiplying the impact of that session.


About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.

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