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Moving fashion forward at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

MFA appoints new curator of fashion arts

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Moving fashion forward at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Earlier this month, theo tyson was appointed to be the Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In this role, she’ll develop the museum’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century fashion, organize exhibits around that collection and work to broaden the narrative of fashion history at the museum.

“theo’s curatorial practice, which rests at the intersections of fashion, race, gender, class, identity and sexuality, is ideally suited to further the department’s goal of developing broad and inclusive narratives that consider various media and historically siloed collections as intrinsically connected,” said Reto Thüring, Beal Family Chair of the MFA’s Department of Contemporary Art.

As the MFA continues its work to be more inclusive in programming, collections, staff and visitors, tyson’s appointment will bring a new perspective to the fashion and textiles section of the museum. Increasing diversity and inclusion in the collections and the programming of the department will be a high priority, as will connecting with the Greater Boston community.

Previously, tyson was the Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art and Culture at the Boston Athenæum. She has also held the posts of project manager at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and stylist and researcher at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film. Several prominent exhibitions in her curatorial repertoire center on fashion history, including “Pierre Cardin: Pursuit of the Future” and “Guo Pei: Couture Beyond.” She’ll begin her role at the MFA on November 1.

In addition to managing the collections and exhibitions for those fashion eras, tyson will work with the Fashion Council, a group of MFA supporters devoted to the fashion arts. When it was established in 1930, the MFA’s textile arts department was the first of its kind in the country. Now the collection contains more than 30,000 objects illustrating history from the Egyptian period to contemporary high-fashion designs.

“I am beyond thrilled to join the MFA, and I am grateful for the opportunity to champion the art of community through fashion,” says tyson.

Cultural institutions are increasingly recognizing fashion for its importance to art history, anthropology and society at all eras. This appointment further illustrates the museum’s commitment to the textile arts.

Thüring says, “I strongly believe that we have found an amazing new colleague in theo, someone with the ability to build on the past successes and strong reputation of the fashion collection and program at the MFA while also being able to take the position into exciting new territory.”