A Squeal of Delight at the Indianapolis Museum of Art: Miniature Dresses


RL Fifield.

I attended the American Institute for Conservation’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis at the end of May. The opening reception was on a steamy night at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). While the reception was welcoming, it was difficult for the conference attendees to fully forget during these festivities that IMA had just decimated several senior conservation staff positions, part 21 positions lost during recent restructuring.

However, as I worked my way through a jubilant exhibition of African dress and masquerade costume in the textile galleries, I turned a corner and was greeted with several tiny white cotton dresses, telling the story of dress history from 1775 to 1968. And, to the titillation and confusion of many of the preservation professionals in attendance, you could touch them. Visitors, in fact, were invited to pull up their skirts and investigate the underpinnings used to create the period silhouettes.

The display was fun, and beautiful.

Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Indianapolis Museum of Art. RL Fifield.

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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