Dismantling the Biba Exhibition

Last weekend saw the closing of Barbara Hulanicki: Biba and Beyond, the major fashion design exhibition that was running for several months upstairs at Brighton Museum. So I took advantage of my access badge to go and have a nose around today, when the museum was closed to the public and the exhibition was being dismantled.

It will take a team of staff almost a week of work to completely clear the gallery of the Biba exhibits and leave it a blank slate ready for the next thing. And they’re also using the opportunity to run a rolling photoshoot of some of the clothing items, for a new book.

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Removing the descriptive text from the wall – I didn’t ever imagine this would to be done by hand but it’s obvious really.Image

An interesting point is that the fiscal value (or not) of individual exhibits doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the popularity or scale of an exhibition. So the Biba exhibition has been hugely popular – yet few of the items are of huge value because this is recent commercial fashion and design history, rather than historic fine art (though of course it could become that over time!) and particularly because of the pioneering off-the-shelf disposability of Biba. What I’m trying to say is; it’s odd to see these items that were just elevated to the status of museum exhibits, folded up and put in a box like regular clothing. I can’t really tell if the coat left folded over the edge of this box is a Biba piece, or just someone’s coat. The work is re-normalised. 

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[Note from museum staff — it’s the curator’s shirt!]

Chris T-T, Blogger in Residence

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