In Conversation: Liz Randolph and Dr. Ellen Sampson

Ellen Sampson, Elizabeth Randolph

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The archivists and collection managers who work in fashion collections may stay quietly behind the scenes, and yet their dedication to preservation and access is crucial for the public and for scholars and artists seeking knowledge and inspiration. This interview explores the rich collaboration that occurred from 2018 to 2019 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art between Ellen Sampson, a visual artist and material culture scholar, and Elizabeth Randolph, at the time the collections manager of The Costume Institute. The two conservators approached Sampson’s practice-based fellowship project, “The Afterlives of Clothes,” with different aims; Sampson was an artist and scholar intrigued by the often disregarded, stained, and dirty objects in a collection renowned for its pristine couture, while Randolph, with her near photographic memory, knowledge of the collection, and efficient organizational skills, facilitated access to even the smallest handkerchief. And yet, through this busy process of finding, selecting, pulling, examining, photographing, and putting away objects, moments of poignancy and loss invaded their daily work, reminding both Randolph and Sampson of the power of clothes and the memories they invoke. Their conversation reflects on this creative process in one of the world’s preeminent fashion collections.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalFashion Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2023

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