Monday, April 8, 2013

DUSAA and SCALA Present: A Talk with Sarah Moore, Curator for The Design Center

On Friday, April 26th, DUSAA and SCALA will co-host a talk with Sarah Moore, Curator for The Design Center. Philadelphia University's Design Center houses more than 200,000 objects, textiles, and fashion materials, and their collection has been used by well known designers such as Free People.  The collection was also showcased by WHYY at their Downton Abbey event this year. Sarah will speak about her work at The Design Center, how she uses social media to help promote and digitize the collection, and give attendees an overview of her latest grant project. Sarah was kind enough to answer some pre-talk questions for the SCALA officers.

What made you decide to pursue textiles, what degrees do you hold, and where are they from?
I have always been excited about textiles; the perfect intersection of history, science, and beauty. I studied Fashion Merchandising and Fabric Design at the University of Georgia.  I took a history of costume class, and it opened up a whole new world to me, one outside of the fashion industry.  I had never thought about the intersection of museums and archives and fashion until that course. My history of costume professor, Patricia Hunt-Hurst, encouraged me to attend the University of Rhode Island, where I studied Historic Fashion and Textiles with an emphasis in curation. 

What made you decide to go into archival work? How did you get to where you are today?
IDuring my studies at the University of Rhode Island, I interned at Rough Point, the historic mansion of Doris Duke. It was amazing to research the personal collection of Ms. Duke! A collector of couture and rugs and textiles!  I then was a consultant at The Design Center and got to explore its vast collection.  I cataloged African factory printed textiles at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art. Then, started back at The Design Center, in January 2010.

How has social media helped, improved, and/or changed The Design Center? 
Social media has definitely helped The Design Center.  We'll hit 25,000 followers on Tumblr this week! We have over 200,000 colorful objects that live in archival boxes and cabinets, and only our staff, students, and designers who visit get to see them. I thought why not share our staff favorites online (which is something new everyday!)  It's so interesting to hear from people all over the world about our textiles and how they are inspired by them.  Social media has opened up huge promotional opportunities to TDC, whether it be a blog post or an upcoming collaboration on a fashion line for Art in the Age.

Can you briefly describe the grant you're working on? 
With generous funding from the Barra Foundation, our staff has been able to digitize and catalog 9,000 Victorian-era printed and 1960s woven swatches this year.  Our web development team at PhilaU leveraged Wordpress to create mobile website, Tapestry, that seamlessly adapts its format for iPhone, Android, tablet and PC users. Users are able to browse the collection by year, date, and motif for the first time.

Do you have any advice for students looking to go into archival work?
I'm sure you hear this all the time, but intern!  It gave me the chance to see the differences of working in small museum versus a large museum. It helps you get the opportunity to find out what is the right work environment for you. 

Please join us on Friday, April 26th at 6pm at the W.W. Hagerty Library in room L33. Please contact SCALA ( if you have any additional questions. 

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