I was passively following E!RedCarpet‘s broadcast of the Met Gala for Manus x Machina, until Kim Kardashian appeared on screen. While she embodied the futuristic theme, the bust of her dress looked suspiciously like the silver seashells at the museum. I quickly googled them. Soon, I was live tweeting the Red Carpet. Kim, Katy, and Zendaya were undoubtably dressed as the Met’s collection.
Some were harder to match than others and I started spending more time looking through the online collections. What was the most unique characteristic of the celebrity outfit? What searchable term should be entered into the collection’s database? Would the metadata yield a viable comparison?
Some comparisons were obvious (Alicia Vikander/French Costume Armor), while other comparisons were a total surprise, yet near perfect nonetheless (Kate Bosworth/Turkish Shield). Digging through the fashion collection for a Kendall equivalent yielded nothing, until I switched to American Modernism (Georgia O’Keeffe).
As I was dashing virtually across the grand stairwell of the Met, though the Greek and Roman Halls and into the period rooms, following link after link, I made discoveries in the collection. Did you know they have a collection of tassels? Or snake skin hats?
My best find was, of course, for Beyonce. Our “Queen Bey” has truly embodied a piece of Serves porcelain. The color matches well and her arms are the elephant trunks. It is undeniable.
This pursuit was a ton of fun. I crossed the world of art in a few short hours drawing inspiration from various geographies, jumping through time and space. Museum staff may not know when our online collections will be of use, nor how the public will draw upon them. But it happens – serendipitously.
So a big thanks to the Met website for enabling an evening of educational fun, and another big thanks to some important retweets from a Met Curator (James Doyle), the American Alliance of Museums, and even an art critic (Lee Rosenbaum).
Your move Anna.