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Sensory Revival: ‘Sleeping Beauties’ at MET

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Costume Institute is set to enchant visitors with its spring 2024 exhibition, ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.’ This highly anticipated show, with exhibition spaces designed by Leong Leong, promises to transport attendees into a fantasy world, going beyond the typical fashion exhibit limitations. ‘Sleeping Beauties’ opens this Friday, May 10th, and runs until September 2nd, 2024.

The challenge of ‘Sleeping Beauties’ lies in reawakening the ‘sensory experience’ of fashion. Garments, once vibrant expressions of personal style, become static in museum collections. This exhibition seeks to reverse that by reviving the garments’ sensory qualities, such as smell, sound, texture, and movement, using cutting-edge technology and established methods.

Throughout the exhibition, 220 garments and accessories spanning four centuries will be displayed, all united by the theme of nature. These pieces will be categorized as ‘earth,’ ‘air,’ and ‘water,’ using nature as a metaphor for fashion’s cyclical and ephemeral nature.

The MET’s ‘Sleeping Beauties’ exhibition aims to push the boundaries of how fashion is interpreted within museums, moving away from a purely visual exploration and embracing a holistic approach that engages all the senses. Audio recordings of fairytales and sounds of nature echo through the galleries, creating an immersive and participatory experience for visitors.

sensory histories

The ‘Sleeping Beauties’ garments, though fragile and delicate, are far from forgotten. Their rich sensory histories are embedded in the fabric of their being. Through this innovative exhibition, the Costume Institute invites visitors to reawaken those histories, not with physical touch, but through imagination.

With ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,’ the MET’s Costume Institute offers a unique and immersive experience that transcends traditional fashion exhibitions. It invites visitors into a dream-like world where garments are more than just clothes – they are living, breathing entities with stories to tell. This exhibition is a testament to the power of design galleries to evoke emotions, spark imagination, and create lasting memories for all who visit.

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