The Costume Institute
The Costume Institute houses a collection of more than 35,000 costumes and accessories spanning five continents and as many centuries. Among the preeminent institutions of its kind in the world, The Costume Institute began as the Museum of Costume Art, an independent entity formed in 1937 and led by Neighborhood Playhouse founder Irene Lewisohn. In 1946, with the financial support of the fashion industry, the Museum of Costume Art merged with The Metropolitan Museum of Art as The Costume Institute, and in 1959 became a full-fledged curatorial department. The legendary fashion arbiter Diana Vreeland, who served as special consultant from 1972 until her death in 1989, created a memorable suite of costume exhibitions, including The World of Balenciaga (1973), Hollywood Design (1974), The Glory of Russian Costume (1976), and Vanity Fair (1977), galvanizing audiences and setting the standard for costume exhibitions both nationally and internationally.