One of the best museums in New York City is in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Museum has the second largest collection of art in New York City and is only about 30 minutes from FIT (take the 2 or 3 to the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum stop). It is particularly famous for its Ancient Egyptian and American art. Up until a few years ago the Brooklyn Museum also had a very impressive costume collection, but it has since been integrated into the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Collection.
However, that has not stopped the Brooklyn Museum from being a leader in fashion exhibitions. Recently, the museum unveiled its retrospective on Jean-Paul Gaultier, the famous French couturier. Gaultier has said that he was reluctant to do the exhibit at first because most retrospectives are done after an artist’s death. However, the fact Gaultier is still alive creates some very important advantages for the curators. Firstly, nothing has been lost, sold or separated so the exhibit is rich with not only clothes, but photographs as well as trinkets like Gaultier’s prized stuffed bear from when he was a child. The designer also could direct the message he wanted to send to the audience, and he did so through a recording of him speaking directly to visitors projected onto a mannequin. This was probably the coolest as well as most unsettling part of the exhibition. Most of the custom mannequins had projections of models faces that would blink, look directly at you and even start speaking or even singing at seemingly random intervals. The exhibit had a refreshingly casual attitude throughout it as the “models” spoke to visitors, pictures were allowed and there were no barriers separating the clothes from the people.
If you are going to visit the museum be sure to also visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens next door. It is by far one of the most beautiful places in New York and you get a discount if you show your receipt from the museum. The plants and exotic flowers are rotated seasonally so there is always a reason to visit the garden!