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LACMA acquires major European Fashion Collection
Jan '09
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) announces the acquisition of an exceptional European fashion collection that includes approximately 250 examples of fashionable dress and more than 300 accessories for men, women, and children dating from 1700 to 1915.

The collection significantly enhances LACMA's eighteenth and nineteenth century European costume collection, elevating the museum's holding in this area to one of the very best both nationally and internationally.

Highlights include a singular collection of complete three-piece men's suits from 1750 through 1810; an impressive array of women's dress documenting the significant stylistic changes that occurred over the span of 200 years; outstanding children's garments of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and a wide range of accessories and undergarments such as fans, hats, purses, shawls, shoes, and corsets.

This acquisition comes near the end of a year of significant acquisitions for LACMA including a landmark fifteenth-century painting by Cima da Conegliano, a contemporary African sculpture by El Anatsui, unparalleled collections of both Pre-Columbian and Oceanic art, the Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection of 3,500 photographs, and many others.

LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan noted, “The acquisition of this transformative collection of dress—which has instantly propelled our Costume and Textiles Department into one of the world's most pre-eminent— is a wonderful addition to what has been a spectacular year for the growth of our collections.”

Acting on a challenge made by Govan to all LACMA curators to identify museum-altering acquisitions, Senior Curator and Department Head of Costume and Textiles Sharon S. Takeda proposed the incredibly rare costume collection meticulously put together by London collector Martin Kamer and Galerie Ruf in Beckenried, Switzerland, both established dealers of fine historic European costume.

Govan and Takeda made a trip to view the collection with Costume Council member Ellen Michelson, which resulted in a significant gift from her and her husband Michael for a third of the collection and the rights to have the entire collection shipped to Los Angeles in order to pursue additional funds.

Presentations of the collection made by LACMA curators resulted in additional gifts from the Costume Council and other patrons. A final major gift this summer from patron Suzanne Saperstein – for more than half of the acquisition price -- ensured that the entire collection would remain at LACMA.

Couture fashion collector and major donor Ms. Saperstein noted, “A collection of this caliber rarely enters the market and we simply couldn't pass up the chance to bring it to LACMA. I'm sure visitors to the museum will be just as awed by the objects as I am.” Takeda noted, “We feel fortunate to have the extraordinary opportunity to acquire a collection of this quality and depth. These new additions, which will certainly make LACMA a major study center for scholars of European fashion, represent the museum's commitment to enriching its increasingly prominent holdings in costume and textiles.”

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