Curator of Costumes
EXPERTISE: Petra Slinkard’s area of expertise includes but is not limited to the following topics: Twentieth-century American and European fashion history; street style and subcultural dress; art wear and performance art; adoption and diffusion theories and rites of passage; Chicago retail history; and the following designers: Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Halston, Stephen Sprouse, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Franco Moschino, Zandra Rhodes, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Rudi Gernreich, Christian Dior, Mainbocher.
EXPERIENCE: Chicago History Museum (curator of costumes, 2013–present); Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), Textile and Fashion Arts (curatorial associate, 2009–13; curatorial assistant, 2007–09); Art Institute of Indianapolis, Department of Fashion Design and Retail Management (adjunct professor, 2008–13); Indiana University, Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design (adjunct professor, 2005; graduate assistantship, 2003–05); The Sage Collection, Indiana University (curatorial assistant/exhibition designer, 2005–06; collections manager/curatorial assistant, 2002–05)
EDUCATION: MS, fashion/textile history, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, 2008, concentration in arts administration and museum studies; BA, art history, Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, 2003; BS, apparel merchandising, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, 2003, concentration in fashion history and visual merchandising
Slinkard joined the Chicago History Museum as the curator of costumes in 2013. With almost ten years’ experience curating in the areas of social history and the fine arts, she assisted in shaping exhibitions such as Simply Halston (IMA, 2008); Body Unbound: Contemporary Couture from the IMA’s Collection (IMA, 2010), and An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse (IMA, 2012) while developing Friends of the Rag: Art that you Wear (UNI Gallery of Art, University of Northern Iowa, 2011) and Ball-Nogues Studio: Gravity’s Loom (IMA, 2010). For the Chicago History Museum, Slinkard conceived and curated the exhibition Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile® for which she authored a catalogue of the same title.
Slinkard lectures on the topics of fashion history and the Museum’s costume collection to organizations including the Costume Society of America and the Chicago Humanities Festival well as to audiences in the Chicagoland area. In addition, she regularly leads tours of the costume collection for professional organizations and students of fashion and costume design.
Slinkard is a national board member of the Costume Society of America, serving as the committee chair for the Richard Martin Award for Exhibition Excellence and her region’s newsletter editor. She is also a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators. Her interests lie in historical dress as it pertains to the study of world cultures, haute couture, fashion show production, adoption and diffusion theories, retail, manufacturing, and subcultural dress.