FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is this organization named Arizona Costume Institute?

Arizona Costume Institute, or ACI, was founded in 1966 to support Phoenix Art Museum’s Arizona Costume Institute in the acquisition and preservation of garments and accessories of historical and aesthetic significance. In 1996, Phoenix Art Museum changed the department’s name to Fashion Design Collection. Consequently, the support organization does not have the same name as the department it supports.

What does ACI do?

ACI promotes appreciation of the Fashion Design department through programs and support of the Museum’s exhibitions. Some activities include fashion and textile programs, visits to private collections and studios, events at local fashion design stores, travel, luncheons, and opening receptions for each new exhibition. Phoenix Art Museum’s fashion design collection is one of fifteen such collections housed in American art museums. ACI’s support of this collection area depends on the interest of dedicated volunteers to help maintain and expand the collection. Membership provides an opportunity to share with others your interest in fashion as art.

What is ACI Nouveau?

Arizona Costume Institute Nouveau is the 35 and under membership division of ACI. Their objective is to raise awareness and membership of Arizona Costume Institute through celebrating Phoenix Art Museum’s distinguished fashion collection. Nouveau promotes fashion education while fostering camaraderie in a professional networking environment. 

What can be found in the Fashion Design Gallery?

Exhibitions that focus on clothing, both as an art form and cultural phenomenon are rotated regularly in the Fashion Design Gallery. Exhibits underscore the significance of fashion as it relates to social and economic history.

The Collection is comprised of more than 4,500 American and European garments, shoes and accessories. It houses important fashions from the 18th to late 20th centuries. The Collection emphasizes major American designers of the 20th century including Adrian, Norell, Galanos, and Claire McCardell; and European designers such as Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent.

The Collection’s steady growth is made possible by gifts from private donors and purchases funded by the Arizona Costume Institute.

Why does the Fashion Design Gallery have a number of openings each year and no other Museum department does?

Fashion and textiles cannot be displayed for an extended length of time without risking damage to the item. To raise the level of public awareness and inform our members of exhibit changes, ACI has customarily assisted in opening exhibits.  

What else is there to learn?

The Astaire Library of Costumes included in the Museum’s Lemon Art Research Library houses many rare books and print materials related to costume and textile.

My late relative had a number of designer dresses. Should we donate them to the museum or sell them on eBay?

eBay may be a quick fix, but consider a tax deductible gift to Phoenix Art Museum’s Fashion Design Collection.

Please be aware there is a museum screening procedure that includes multiple, time consuming steps. Because the Museum is committed to the care and preservation of all items accepted into the collection the standard of item, the collection’s needs, and the recognizable importance of the piece need to be considered. The item is then presented to a Curators Committee and the Collections Committee for acceptance into the collection. In this way the department’s resources are best used to focus on items of a truly significant nature.

Now, if you have a complete, unaltered ensemble, that is in perfect condition, is an iconic work of the designer, will fill a hole in our collection or is representative of its time - come on down!

What are Museum discount coupons and how do I get one?

The Museum needs to identify how many volunteer hours are completed each year. These hours are used by the Museum when applying for grants and funding. As a way to make an annual accounting of volunteer hours the Museum created a discount coupon thank you plan for every 50 volunteer hours. These discount coupons can be used in the Museum store. Volunteer hour sheets are collected and turned in each May.