- New York
“This residency is articulated around the idea of exchanging with peers in the US in order to look into the different ways in which they have chosen to present fashion in their museums, as well as the different policies and practices that they have conceived in order to guarantee diversity, equality, accessibility and inclusion in their institutions.”
I am first and foremost a historian, interested in politics, culture, art and design. After finishing my BA in history at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, and driven by a commitment to finding solutions to the violent political conflict in my native Basque Country, I decided to further my studies in international comparative politics at the London School of Economics. As well as my work as a student and researcher, I had the opportunity to work in the LSE program Global Dimensions on bringing together major actors in academia, politics, business and nonprofit organizations in order to debate and bring about new approaches to global governance.
While working in London I became interested in fashion through various exhibitions and academic programs; I was fascinated by the realization that fashion was as much an influential global business as a powerful tool for collective identity and individual self-creation; and an artistic expression as well as an artisanal and technological endeavor, with fundamental reverberations in our society. Following an MA in dress and fashion history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, I started a career in museums working with fashion collections and exhibitions, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Cristobal Balenciaga Foundation, where I worked in the conception and curation of the new Cristobal Balenciaga Museum.
Since my appointment as director of Palais Galliera in 2018 I have overseen an important renovation project and I have been working together with my team in the development of an ambitious exhibitions program which combines temporary shows with a permanent collection display, looking at new ways of addressing fashion and making it relevant and accessible and to a large and diverse audience.
Miren Arzalluz holds a BA History from the University of Deusto, an MA Comparative Politics from the LSE, an MA Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, as well as a PhD History from the University of Deusto.
She was chief curator and head of collections and exhibitions at the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation from 2006 to 2013, where she worked on the conception and curation of the new Cristobal Balenciaga Museum.
In December 2016 she was appointed director of the Etxepare Basque Cultural Institute.
In January 2018 she was appointed director of the Palais Galliera, Fashion Museum of the City of Paris.
Currently, the Palais Galliera is immersed in a process of expanding the scope of its activity. After an ambitious renovation project (2018-2020), the museum has significantly increased its exhibition space, which now combines its important program of temporary exhibitions with a new permanent display of its collection. Along with temporary exhibitions, whether retrospective shows or thematic projects, the collection display offers visitors a historical journey which looks at fashion in all its depth and complexity: fashion as artistic expression, as a thriving industry, as a powerful tool for constructing one’s identity, as a channel for individual and collective expression, or as a social, political and cultural symbol. Exploring and integrating new approaches to fashion, the museums aspires to inspire innovative thinking on the meaning and relevance of fashion in our society.
The recent development of the Palais Galliera project is based on a profound reflection about the role of the museum and its responsibility as a social and cultural agent. The Palais Galliera is committed to becoming an open, accessible and inclusive museum, as well as a relevant social agent, as an agent of change. In this context, I am persuaded that it is fundamental to share ideas and experiences with our colleagues in museums with fashion collections with whom we share the same goals and challenges. The project that I propose for this residency is articulated around the idea of sharing, exchanging and discussing with peers at the United States in order to look into the different ways in which they have chosen to present fashion in their museums, as well as the different policies and practices that they have conceived, promoted and implemented in order to guarantee diversity, equality, accessibility and inclusion in their institutions.
Historically the United States have been a reference for the study, interpretation and presentation of fashion.
Fashion research in the past two decades have been nourished by the rise, development and institutionalization of the new field of fashion studies both in the United States and the United Kingdom. While the British model has encouraged innovative studies in histories of consumption, practices of everyday life and object-based study linked to museums and collections, in the United States research has grown out of cultural and gender history.
Similarly, museums in the United Stated, very particularly in New York, have played a fundamental role in the modernization of the interpretation and presentation of fashion. Diana Vreeland’s exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art constituted a turning point in the history of fashion curation. Other key figures, such as Richard Martin and Harold Koda, played a major role in changing people’s perception of fashion through their intellectually challenging exhibitions, both at the Fashion Institute of Technology and later at the Costume Institute. Fashion went to be considered from a futile and commercial expression of largely female superficiality, to an artistic endeavor, as well as a social and cultural phenomenon. While the remarkable success of the Costume Institute’s exhibitions has been key to understand the unprecedented popularity of fashion exhibitions around the world, Valerie Steele, one of the major fashion thinkers in the international academic and museum scene, has continued exploring new ways of looking at fashion through innovative exhibitions that address issues of gender, sexuality, decolonization, cultural appropriation, diversity and inclusion.
For all the above reasons there are two institutions in New York that constitute major international references for the interpretation and presentation of fashion from a socio-cultural approach: the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, especially the Costume Institute. Likewise, it would be particularly interesting to learn about the experience and vision of other museums in New York that address fashion from different perspectives (art, design, history and society), such as MoMa, the Museum of the City of New York or the Cooper-Hewitt Museum