We’ll let you decide disagreement over dress in ROM’s BIG event
October 23, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) will hold its ‘BIG’ event on Nov. 3, which includes a dress from Dior’s 2011 collection by designer John Galliano, convicted in France of making antisemitic remarks. One invitation recipient took the ROM to task for its connections to this dress and designer. The ROM responded. We would like to hear what you think.
From: Peter Haberman
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 2:24 PM
To: Shelagh O’Donnell
Today I received your invitation to the EXCLUSIVE MEMBER PREVIEW of ‘BIG.’
The garment shown on the front page of the invitation, Passage #5 (coat-dress and belt) is identified as a piece from ROM’s Haute Couture Collection/Spring Summer 2011 – Dior by John Galliano.
I find extreme difficulty in understanding the rationale of an otherwise worthwhile organization disregarding the conviction on Sept. 8, 2011, of the creator of this very piece, on criminal charges relating to Galliano having uttered in public on multiple occasions antisemitic statements. With that background I would have expected ROM to sever its connection to the Galliano-produced piece.
From: Shelagh O'Donnell
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 3:55 PM
To: Peter Haberman
Subject: Re: BIG
Dear Mr. Haberman,
Thank you for your email about the inclusion of a Dior dress, Passage #5, in the upcoming ROM exhibition BIG.
The ROM did not disregard the fact of John Galliano’s antisemitic statements when it decided to purchase the dress. As you may know, the ROM has an important collection of Dior and this particular dress, because it’s from a collection that references Dior’s 1947 ‘New Look’ that launched the House of Dior, is a significant part of the Dior story and hence an essential addition to our historic collection. The Dior history, and this dress, is now connected to Galliano and his antisemitic remarks. The ROM will be explicit about this when the dress is exhibited in BIG, and whenever it is displayed. It is by being explicit about the history and associations of the dress that the ROM acts as a responsible museum.
In this regard, as you can appreciate, the ROM has artifacts that come from war, are associated with despicable personalities or disaster, but that does not preclude them being collected and displayed. To ignore these objects is perhaps easier, but the appropriate thing for the ROM to do is to be unequivocal in explaining their context. This is the principle underlying the inclusion of the Dior dress in BIG.
Head of Communications
Royal Ontario Museum
Should the ROM disassociate itself from the Galliano-designed piece or display it with an explanation?
Let us know what you think. Write to: email@example.com, subject: ROM