How to see the McQueen exhibit

July 19, 2011 in Costume, Design, Fashion, Fashion Anthropology, Textile Addiction by alliemcc

Or, how to be a museum ninja.

NOTE: This article was also picked up by The Mercurial. Thanks Amanda!

1. Plan your visit for a weekday, preferably early in the week.

Weekends are definitely a bad idea – in addition to regular tourists from far-off regions of the US and the world, you will be competing for line space with local and regional visitors who are in town just for the weekend.

2. Buy your ticket online ahead of time.

You’ll still have to wait in line, but you can print it out and take it to any information desk or ticket counter to check in. And it will save you about a minute of cash- or credit card-processing at the counter.

While you’re at it, print out a map, and note the bathrooms, and the location of the exhibit, so you don’t waste time looking for the floorplan and asking where the exhibit is.

Of course, if you are a museum member, you can skip the line entirely.

And if you’d like to contribute 2x the usual suggested admission, you can see the exhibit on a Monday, when the museum is usually closed.

3. Pack smart.

Wear comfortable shoes, and bring some kind of music-playing device with headphones.

If you are like me, you would prefer that you could make a private visit to the museum to study and contemplate the artwork without being physically jostled and bombarded by other patrons' loud and inane conversations.

You will inevitably be surrounded by groups of school children of all ages who are not being supervised. Or you will find yourself in that hour-plus waiting line in front of an Argentine couple, one of whom is loudly conducting business on his cell phone, while the other is loudly having a conversation via the walkie-talkie function of her cellphone with her children who are in another part of the museum, and complaining about waiting in the line. (True story.)

As always, dress in layers, because some galleries you will pass through are appropriately frigid, and others are not so air-conditioned.

4. Get to the museum as soon as it opens.

This is probably the best chance you have of possibly standing in line for less than 1 hour. I’ve heard wait times can get up to 3 hours…

From Grand Central Terminal, take the 6 Train uptown to 86th Street, then walk south and east a couple of blocks. The Met is at 82nd St. and 5th Avenue. Try to get the express train, rather than the local.

Hopefully your bag is light. But you may want to check it anyway with the lovely people in the luggage check – just take your phone/wallet/passport/camera, and leave the rest.

If you haven’t gone within the last half hour, go to the bathroom now.

5. Go to the 2nd floor and follow the signs to the end of the line, and get comfortable.

If you are claustrophobic, or just hate people, be sure take your meds ahead of time, because the “line attendants” (museum staff specifically in charge of rustling museum visitors into the McQueen line) will be constantly telling you to move up and in, “use all available space”, and advising you to get over any notion of personal space that you may hold dear.

Remember your posture and breathing from yoga/tai chi/ballroom dance. Take care of your back and knees.

6. Be sure to look around and admire the other historical fashion artifacts along the route.

There is plenty of jewelry scattered around, and a few textiles. I particularly enjoyed the Silk Road horseman’s tunic and stockings in Near Eastern art. Also, the orientalist/exotic portraits in the 800 gallery are fantastically fabric-centric.

7. Enter the McQueen exhibit.

Forget about reading the explanatory blurbs on the wall, or the description placards for each garment. You are going to be packed into this exhibit like undergrads at the bar on Thursday night, especially for the first couple of rooms.

Pay attention to the garments, and the music, and do your best to ignore the mouth-breathers in shorts and fanny packs around you. Don’t be afraid to cut in front of people and lean in close to see the details.

There are some small TV monitors throughout the exhibit showing video from past McQueen shows – just forget it. Stick to the mannequins.

You can read everything online. And preview a few garments.

8. Exit through the gift shop.

Don’t buy anything. The only things worth spending money on are large and unwieldy and you don’t want to have to carry that around for the rest of the day.

The exhibit catalog is a hardbound book, approximately 9×12”, with many full-color photos printed on clay-coated paper. That is what is known as a coffee-table book: a book so heavy you have to put it down on your coffee table and leave it there.

Order online instead.

9. Proceed to another exhibit of your choice, or prepare to exit the museum.

This exhibit on tunics from the Andes looks really interesting.

Don’t forget to retrieve your bag from the luggage-check.

Go now! The last day is Sunday, August 7!

All images via The Metropolitan Museum.