5/20/10

American Woman

Our final day in Manhattan began with a compiled list of what everyone wanted to see and do. My contribution? The Met.  I had never been before and was determined to see the American Woman exhibit before packing up and returning to Toronto. After a trek through Central Park, we continued onto the sunny Upper East Side streets until we hit 1000 Fifth Ave. As those famous steps came into view I became filled with the same excitement I had on my very first trip to NYC.

I raced ahead of my family to find the exhibition. At the entrance I decided that I would immerse myself in the experience as best I could. So I approached an attendant (perhaps a little too eagerly) and purchased an audioguide. In Europe I couldn't be bothered to spend the money, but here I wanted to take in the exhibit as best I could. I pressed play, entered the first room and thought Let the sensory overload begin.

Walking through each room of the exhibit is like stepping through time. The extraordinary clothes and accessories are accompanied by set designs that transport patrons to each of the featured decades. Aside from the clothing (if you can even get past it), I was swept away by the way each room captured an influential moment in the development of the American woman's identity.

My favourite era, that of The Screen Siren, should come as no surprise. I gasped as I entered the second last room and saw clips of Lena Horne and Rita Hayworth projected onto the walls. Between the black and white clips were some of the most glamorous gowns of the exhibit.

I am still struggling to describe the exhibit, but it's surely one that I will never forget. My visit to the Met was certainly the highlight of my trip. I must have looked ridiculous in my jeans and tee, with my museum headset on and an irrepressible smile on my face. Sure, I could have read all of the literature on the walls but being guided through the exhibit by the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker was a little too good to pass up.

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