I just came back from an east coast road trip, driving from Boston to DC and then back. I only spent a day in each place we stopped, but I did get to see four different costume exhibits! (My husband Mike was such a trooper, hanging out in museums with me.)
The first one was “The Dressmaker’s Art” at The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT. The museum is a local community facility, and most of it’s permenant exhibits focus on natural history. However, they run special exhibitions highlighting the fine and decorative arts. “The Dressmaker’s Art” is one of these. They also have an interesting collection of Andy Warhol silkscreens currently on view.
The costume exhibit includes pieces from about 1820 to 1920, mostly American. They are carefully mounted, and most are not behind glass, meaning you can get pretty close. A lot of the displays are set up so you can see both the back and the front of the gowns, which I really appreciated. The lighting is dim (as it should be to protect the fabrics), but not overly so. You’re not in a cave, like in the V&A costume gallery.
The array of pieces is impressive for a small regional exhibit. Nearly all of them are drawn from The Bruce Museum itself. I especially liked the 1860s to 1880s gowns on display. Very drool-worthy. There were also shoes, fans, and some outerwear.
In sum, I highly recommend a visit. The museum isn’t that far from NYC (though you would need a car to get there, most likely). The exhibit will be on through September 5th. Here is the website with more information.