Ryerson Fashion Research Collection

Opening the closet door to a Canadian fashion archive

How to Prepare for your Research Appointment in the FRC

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by Ingrid Mida, Collection Co-ordinator.

It is always a good idea to do some advance preparation for your appointment in a museum or study collection. Time goes quickly and your appointment slot might be over before you have gathered all the information. Here are five tips to get the most out of your visit.

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1. Do some reading in advance. Read about the designer, the time period or the type of garment that you have asked to see. For example, if you are going to study this dress by Balenciaga, read about the designer in advance. Or if you are asking to look at dresses from the Edwardian era, know the characteristics of the period. Knowing what you might expect to see will help you recognize when something is unusual. Garments have complex histories and might have been altered by the wearer.

2, Look up similar garments or designers in other collections. More museums are offering parts of their collections online. These usually do not come up in a Google search. Visit the websites of the largest collections of costume such as the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to access and search their online collection and ancillary scholarly material.

3, Bring the right tools. Your tool kit might include a pencil, notebook, camera (with the flash disabled), and perhaps a measuring tape and magnifying glass.

4, Wash your hands before your visit and be prepared to wear gloves. Leave dangling jewelry, long scarves and big backpacks in your locker.

5. Slow down. Turn off your phone and other distractions. Make a mental shift to be present and engaged.

For more information on how to make an appointment, please see the tab near the top of the site. Please be advised that appointments must be made in advance. since the Fashion Research Centre is not available for browsing. You can visit the Pinterest site to see a sampling of the type of artifacts on hand. A project to provide an online catalogue is underway. 

Author: Ingrid Mida

Curator, Dress Historian, Collection Co-ordinator of the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection, Part-time Lecturer, Lead Author of "The Dress Detective: A Practical Guide on How to do Object-based Research in Fashion."

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