The Metropolitan Museum of Art's spring exhibition of 2015,"China: through the Looking Glass", drew a record number of visitors to the Costume Institute and became the fifth most popular exhibition in the museum's history. Met Gala, the fundraising event designated to benefit the fashion exhibition, also attracted considerable media attention and raised a significant amount in donations to the museum. "China: through the looking glass", an exhibition resulting from a collaboration between the Asian Department and the Costume Institute, was the first at the Institute to combine fashion, film and art in a single exhibition. It presented how, in their creative processes, Western designers were inspired by Chinese aesthetics. How was the exhibition presented, and what issues arose out of the exhibition? Through materials from the museum's website, media reviews, fashion literature, audience responses, and the author's own observation, this article discusses several inter-related issues including the curatorial ideas, exhibition design, the promotion of the exhibition, the ethical dilemma involved in fashion exhibitions, and critiques from the audience. This article concludes that, with abundant resources, the exhibition constructed a succinct curatorial statement. Together with a design team consisting of talents from various fields—especially the film industry—the exhibition created an unprecedented on site visual experience and established a new milestone in exhibition design. However, the dynamic between the museum and its sponsors, and the ethical issues involved in fashion exhibitions, remains contested.
curatorial study, exhibition design, fashion exhibitions, museum ethics