Anna Wintour Costume Center

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Anna Wintour Costume Center
Savage Beauty exhibition.jpg
Savage Beauty Exhibition, 2011
Anna Wintour Costume Center is located in New York City
Anna Wintour Costume Center
Location within New York City
Established 2014
Location 1000 5th Avenue, New York City, NY 10028
Coordinates 40°46′46″N 73°57′47″W / 40.779447°N 73.96311°W / 40.779447; -73.96311
Director Harold Koda
Public transit access Subway: NYCS-bull-trans-4.svg NYCS-bull-trans-5.svg NYCS-bull-trans-6.svg NYCS-bull-trans-6d.svg to 86th Street
Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M79, M86
Website Official website

The Anna Wintour Costume Center is a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that houses the collection of the Costume Institute. The center is named after Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and chair of the museum's annual Met Gala since 1995. It was endowed by Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch.[1] The curator is Andrew Bolton.[2]

The center was formally opened by the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama on May 5, 2014.[3] Many famous people, such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, Zac Posen, Ralph Lauren, and Donatella Versace, were at the center's opening.[4][5][6][7]


In 1902, Irene and Alice Lewisohn became teenage heiresses and decided to join other wealthy New York friends in community work. They began to spend time at the Henry Street Settlement House in New York, a community center devoted to the integration of immigrant families and since 1909 host to summer camps for girls and boys from underprivileged New York families. Alice, who acted in plays herself, began working as a drama teacher, while Irene devoted herself to dance productions. While at the Settlement House they also began to present performances and in 1915, the sisters joined Rita Wallach Morgenthau to build and found the Neighborhood Playhouse on the corner of Grand and Pitt Streets, where between 1915 and 1927, the theater presented plays by Shaw, Joyce, and Dunsany.

Robe à la française 1740s, as seen in one of the exhibits at the Costume Institute

Now called the Abrons Arts Center, the theater continues to showcase many Settlement arts programs. Aline Bernstein served her apprenticeship there from 1915-1924 designing costumes and stage sets. From 1928 the four women moved their operations to the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre at 340 East 54th Street. There it became an actor training school and students were offered a two-year program formal drama and dance training to become professionals. Both Gregory Peck and Anna Sokolow were students of Martha Graham there.

During their years of running the school theatre and producing plays, a body of knowledge was formed about acting, theater production, and costume, set and stage design. Eventually Irene opened a home for her library called the Museum of Costume Art on Fifth Avenue in 1937.[8] Aline Bernstein helped her with the collection and presentation. After the war in 1946 it moved to the first floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in 1960 the two organizations merged, and the Met is now home to the Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library.

Since 1946, with help from the fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, the institute has hosted the annual Met Gala, to raise money for operating expenses.[9]

In 2008, the American Costume Collection of the Brooklyn Museum merged into the Costume Institute, a cost-saving scheme coming after years of close collaboration between the two organizations. The collection of the Brooklyn museum is older, having been formed from private donations by former New York high society personalities, beginning with the donation in 1903 of an 1892 cream crepe dress worn by Kate Mallory Williams at her graduation from Brooklyn Heights Seminary.[9] Prior to the move, 23,500 objects from the Brooklyn collection were digitized and these images are now shared by both organizations.[10] At the time of the merger, the Met costume collection consisted of 31,000 objects from the 17th-century onwards.[10] The opening exhibition in 2014 featured work by British-born designer Charles James, an important figure in New York fashion of the 1940s and 1950s and whose work is in the Brooklyn collection. [3]

In May 2016, the Costume Institute will feature an exhibition entitled "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology." The exhibition and the accompanying Costume Institute Gala will be sponsored by Apple.[11][12]

List of notable exhibitions[edit]


  1. ^ Karimzadeh, Marc (14 January 2014). "Met Names Costume Institute Complex in Honor of Anna Wintour". WWD. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Trebay, Guy (29 April 2015). "At the Met, Andrew Bolton Is the Storyteller in Chief". New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Karimzadeh, Marc (5 May 2014). "Michelle Obama Cuts the Ribbon at Anna Wintour Costume Center". WWD. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Michelle Obama to open Anna Wintour's Met costume center". 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  5. ^ "First lady of fashion Anna Wintour gets teary as First Lady Michelle Obama honors her at the Met". NY Daily News. 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  6. ^ Monday, May 5, 2014, by Tiffany Yannetta. "Inside the Anna Wintour Costume Center's Charles James Exhibit - Afternoon at the Museum - Racked NY". Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  7. ^ May 5, 2014 (2012-04-17). "Michelle Obama Cuts the Ribbon for New Anna Wintour Costume Center - Speakeasy - WSJ". Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  8. ^ "1944". Playbill. Retrieved 2008-12-16. Philanthropist Irene Lewisohn died today in New York City. She and her sister Alice built and endowed the Neighborhood Playhouse. With Aline Bernstein she founded the Museum of Costume Art on Fifth Avenue in 1937. 
  9. ^ a b Brooklyn Museum’s Costume Treasures Going to the Met, New York Times article in December 2008
  10. ^ a b Collection of the Brooklyn Museum costumes on Artstor
  11. ^ "Jony Ive talks intersection of fashion and tech ahead of Apple-sponsored Met Gala". AppleInsider. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  12. ^ "Apple to sponsor 2016 Met Gala, CDO Jony Ive to host as cochair". AppleInsider. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 

External links[edit]