Musealization without museology: national museums and fashion exhibitions between history, theory and practice

  • Stefan Žarić Department of History of Arts Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Keywords:
fashion, museums, musealization, identification, audience

Abstract

Studies of the theory and history of fashion, which were up until recently grouped with culture studies, gender studies, communicology, art history and anthropology are, on the academic map of the 21st century being established as separate disciplines. Consolidating these contexts, the affirmation of fashion studies has been most prevalent within the museology of fashion, as it - or rather – fashion museology is becoming one of the leading tendencies within contemporary museum practices. This paper views fashion as a specific kind of system, coded through sociocultural codes, and finds the reason for the ever-increasing number of exhibitions of fashion on the international as well as the national museum scene in the codes of fashion which oscillate between the aesthetic and the commercial. By affirming fashion as an art form on the one hand and increasing the profitability of the institution on the other, fashion exhibitions enable museums to become „fashionable“ – to keep up with contemporary, more liberal exhibition concepts. Despite the fact that in this year there have been a large number of fashion exhibitions in national museums, fashion is still without its own museology, a scientific theory which would explain it as a museum phenomenon. The exhibits are interpreted historically, while explaining their utilitarian and aesthetic value, while the question of why fashion is exhibited as an art form or a kind of cultural production to the consumer of the exhibition - the visitor – remains unanswered. By analyzing historical events which conditioned the museum exhibiting of fashion as well as the different conceptions of its exhibition, the author strives to – through the juxtaposition of international and national exhibitions catch sight of the causes of the lack of a museology of fashion, and open up the issue of its affirmation within the professional academic and museum community of Serbia.

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Published
2016-03-04