Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Exhibit of 'Star Wars' costumes and drawings coming to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

A glamorous component of that famous galaxy far, far away is landing in St. Petersburg.

The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg announced it will host "Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume" as the only Florida venue of the nationally traveling show. It opens Nov. 11.

Sixty-one handcrafted costumes and additional concept drawings by top professionals in the film industry are included in the show. They have been culled from the archives of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, founded by filmmaker George Lucas, who created and directed the first Star Wars film in 1977 and developed it into a mega-franchise. Many of the characters in the saga of good-versus-evil have become iconic, closely identified with their attire.

In a statement, Lucas said, "The detailed precision of a design can be as bold a measure of storytelling as words on a page, leading to truths at the core of a character, situation or shared history."

Star Wars is an important cultural touchstone and we are thrilled to present the artistry of these costumes," said Kristen A. Shepherd, executive director of the Museum of Fine Arts. "The exhibition will take visitors inside the creative process by showing how designers interpret and translate George Lucas' vision into reality. . . . Design is a critical element in narrative art forms, including film, and these are some of the most significant costumes in film history."

All are from the first seven Star Wars movies and explore the complex collaboration in creating the final product seen on screen. Arranged in "chapters," they are displayed within the context of their historical inspirations and symbolism.

Chapters have concepts including "Jedi versus Sith," "Symbolism and Military Power" and "The Galactic Senate."

Among the group are the robes of Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader's armor, the hirsute Chewbacca costume made with yak hair and mohair, the storm trooper carapace, elaborate gowns of Queen Amidala, Queen Jamillia and their handmaidens, the outfits of senators Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and Mas Amedda, and the armor of bounty hunters Jango Fett, Boba Fett and Zam Wesell.

Exhibitions of famous costumes and haute couture clothing have become increasingly present at fine art museums. They follow the precedent established by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose Costume Institute has mounted some of the most lauded shows in its recent history.

The trend reflects a recognition that the category once considered only a craft can be, in design and execution, an art form.

The traveling exhibit is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Lucasfilm Ltd., a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co.

It has toured in Seattle and New York and is currently at the Denver Art Museum. A spokesperson there said it has been selling out on many days and a timed-ticket admission is being used to manage crowds. Attendance numbers have not been released.

The St. Petersburg museum has no specifics yet about admission, group tours and hours, so it hasn't listed the show on its website.

"The MFA looks forward to announcing details about the exhibition on May 4," which is celebrated as Star Wars Day, Shepherd said.

The Force, visually, will be with us through April 1, 2018.

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