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met_fashion_-2019_crop.jpg Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum
Left to right: Iconic designs by Yves Saint Laurent for Dior, Balenciaga, and Gilbert Adrian

Monday Musings: Museums

Hot town, summer in the city, as The Lovin’ Spoonful once sang, and the dog days of August make the back of your neck hot and gritty…one of the best places to cool off is a museum. Air-conditioning and low-light levels are beckoning as exhibits focus on scenic design, costumes, and other things of interest to theatrical designers and aficionadas. 

So if the heat of New York City is getting to you, head to The Morgan Library & Museum for “Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet,” a look at the wonderfully whimsical scenic designs by Maurice Sendak. While Sendak (1928-2012) was mainly known for his illustrations in children’s books—of course, we all know Where The Wild Things Are—he also had a parallel career designing sets and costumes for the stage.

This first museum exhibition dedicated to his stage career will include storyboards, preparatory sketches, costume studies, luminous watercolors, and meticulous dioramas from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Janáček's Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and an opera based on Where the Wild Things Are. The exhibit, which opened June 14, runs through October 6, 2019.

Sendak’s design work was discussed by Zachary Wolfe in The New York Times recently, taking us behind the scenes to examines Sendak’s work.

A Maurice Sendak diorama for The Magic Flute at Houston Grand Opera

A Maurice Sendak diorama for The Magic Flute at Houston Grand Opera

Then next fall when cool winds start to blow and you drape a scarf around your neck and reach for the gloves, The Metropolitan Museum in New York City will provide a spot to warm up while you enjoy the exhibit “In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection.” 

The exhibit features 80 iconic pieces from the large costume collection amassed by Sandy Schreier, who grew up hooked on '20s and '30s cinema and befriending Oscar-winning Hollywood costume designers Dorothy Jeakins and Helen Rose. 

Author of two relevant books, Hollywood Dressed & Undressed: A Century of Cinema Style and Hollywood Gets Married, Schreier collected anything she considers important to the history of fashion as art, including a Thea Porter caftan that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor at the late star’s estate sale. She also owns Rita Hayworth’s dress from Gilda, purple silk pants and blouse designed by Yves Saint Laurent for Claudia Cardinale to wear in The Pink Panther, as well as Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Schiaparelli dress from [1952's] Moulin Rouge

No matter the season, museums are a great respite from the outside world, and in most cases in addition to providing an inspirational look at a cool aspects of art and culture, you can usually find a good cup of tea! 

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