Clothing ARTicles: A Review of An Archive of Everything Worn to the MoMA


Hollie Park

The exhibit shows descriptions of outfits worn by patrons at MoMA.

It seems every week is fashion week in New York City, the epicenter of style, culture, and expression. No other city is more famous for the streetwear of its inhabitants. What better way to celebrate New Yorkers’ styles than with an accumulative, first-hand list of what they wear? An Archive of Everything Worn to the MoMA, an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, running from November 1st, 2017 to January 28th, 2018 did just that.

It is commissioned by artist Emily Spivack, who is known for her New York Times bestselling book, Worn Stories, and for gifting a plain white shirt store, Medium White Tee, in Hawaii to President Obama. In conjunction with ongoing exhibits: Items: Is Fashion Modern? and The People’s Studio, the archive celebrates the fashion of those who visit the Museum of Modern Art.

“I thought it was cool how we could see what other people wrote and add something of our own to the archive as well.”

Located in the heart of Manhattan, the midtown exhibit is small, but it provides a new perspective on the fashion culture New York. Artist Emily Spivack introduces a raw aspect of New York City fashion that allows New Yorkers to express themselves in a way they had not been able to before.

The title of the new exhibit is self-explanatory. It is a collection of written documents of clothing worn by visitors to the MoMA. Visitors utilize the museum-provided tablets to write descriptions to the museum’s growing archive about their own outfits, or those of others around them they observe, which is also encouraged.

The exhibit is public, and the messages are projected on a wall on the third floor in the corner of the museum dedicated to the Artists Experiment, an annual initiative of the Department of Education that works to bring together contemporary artists to conceptualize ideas for innovative and experimental public interactions.

Brendon Kim ‘19, who is interested in pursuing a future in fashion, said, “I thought it was cool how we could see what other people wrote and add something of our own to the archive as well,” regarding the interactive aspect of the exhibit. The exhibit’s goal is to provide a wide range of styles to represent New Yorkers in an unedited way. While some descriptions are long and detailed, others are vague, both of which allow the observer to imagine the person sitting behind the tablet.

Messages range from old, worn, hometown sweaters to exclusive designer pieces showing the diversity of the museum’s patrons, a big part of the appeal of such a unique exhibit. “I thought that the exhibit was unique in that it allowed us to see a small part of the diversity in New York City,” said Kim.

Although this particular exhibit has closed, there are numerous other exhibits to see at MoMA. Entrance to the Museum of Modern Art is free every day with student ID, and free for everyone on Fridays from four to nine p.m.

For a glimpse of New York City fashion and art appreciation, visit the museum, or go to to see some examples of contributions to the archive.