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A visual invitation: The Shop Chronicles

When you open the doors to a library you expect to see lots of books and people milling about from shelf-to-shelf or tapping away at computers. But, when you walk into a library in Boyle Heights you encounter something different, something surprising, what you find are mannequins dressed from head-to-toe in clothing you may have seen before, but where?

As part of Center Theatre Group’s The Shop project, costume exhibits have been installed at partner sites, Benjamin Franklin Library, Malabar Library, Robert Louis Stevenson Library and at the White Memorial Medical Center. How do we make theatre part of everyday life? It may be simple but placing three mannequins dressed in period attire makes for a visual invitation to learn about theatre.

Center Theatre Group’s costume shop is home to many props and costumes from past productions and for the most part they sit in waiting. We decided to dust off a few pieces and display them. Along with the costumes, we created large bilingual banners with information detailing the show, the designer and a tidbit on costume design. The banners introduce library patrons to learn about fabric dying, measuring or research.

The exhibits rotate from site-to-site just as library patrons are getting use to them, and something new arrives – like a new book release. The library staff informs us that the patrons love the exhibits, they take selfies and find them curious. We also use the costumes as examples during our Community Sewing Circles, but you can read about that in another post.

We expanded the costume exhibits to include the White Memorial Medical Center and the guests and staff has enjoyed them just as much as the library patrons. This exhibit is located at the end of a long concourse that leads to the cafeteria and many people get a chance to walk by it every day. It may even bring some levity to a visitor’s hospital visit. Check out one of the costume exhibits next time you’re in Boyle Heights.

For more information, please click here to view the Costumes in Your Community flier.

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