The Museum at FIT, along with more than 180 fashion experts, curators, designers, craftspeople, museums, schools, fashion institutions, NGOs, and other organizations from all parts of the globe have come together to tell the stories of the clothes we wear—from 3,000 years ago to today—on We Wear Culture, an initiative for the Google Arts & Culture platform. The resulting site, which is free, brings together over 30,000 individual artifacts in a searchable database spanning global fashion and dress collections, as well as more than 450 digital exhibitions on a variety of fashion culture topics. We Wear Culture is available online and through the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android devices.
MFIT’s contribution began over a year ago when Google approached the institution to collaborate using stories and objects from the collections. The museum provided profiles on over 260 individual objects from the archives, in-depth virtual exhibitions based around themes such as Women in Fashion, Corsets & Shoes as well as digital versions of recent MFIT exhibits. Working with MFIT, Google adapted the installation photos and object information for these web-based exhibits. The platform also showcases behind the scenes insights from the experts working at participating institutions. MFIT’s director and chief curator, Valerie Steele, selected 18 of her favorite objects from the museum’s collections to spotlight.
“It’s a phenomenal source for students and designers,” according to MFIT Digital Media and Strategic Initiatives Manager Tamsen Young, Fashion and Textile Studies, MA ‘00. Previously this information was siloed at various institutions that house fashion collections, sometimes not even easily accessible online for researchers. People who aren’t able to travel now can experience international museum collections. Past exhibitions that are no longer on view are documented for future enthusiasts. It is easy to spend hours exploring the site using a variety of formats to examine objects, from interactive video to ultra-high-resolution photography that allows the viewer to zoom in on details.