The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Brooklyn Museum Costumes

Unknown, (Manufacturer) American, Parasol, 1915-1920, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Artstor and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are sharing nearly 6,000 images of American and European costumes and accessories which were formerly in the Brooklyn Museum in the Digital Library. With support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Brooklyn Museum cataloged and photographed its entire collection of 23,500 objects. A subset of these, representing the highlights of the collection, has been photographed at high resolution and made available in Artstor. The Brooklyn Museum Costume collection was established in 1902 and is the world's most comprehensive collection of American fashion from the late 19th to mid-20th century. The collection features masterpieces and signature objects by some of the most famous American and European fashion designers, including Charles Worth, Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga, Norman Norell, Christian Dior, Claire McCardell, and Charles James— many of whom were inspired to deposit their archives at the museum. Of particular note is the definitive collection of costumes and patterns by Charles James, the British-born designer who was a major force in New York fashion in the 1940s and 1950s. There are also many examples of Belle Époque fashion, as well as accessories such as hats and shoes. The collection is also available as high-resolution downloads for academic publishing; for more information, please see Images for Academic Publishing.

In January 2009, the Brooklyn Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a collection-sharing partnership whereby the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection was transferred to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it will be integrated into the collections of The Costume Institute. Established in 1946, The Metropolitan Museum's costume collection consists of 31,000 objects from the 17th century to the present, with particular strengths in European fashion from the mid-20th century forward. In combination, these two complementary collections form one of the largest and most encyclopedic costume collections in the world.