Spontaneous decision to apply led new museum curator to the fashion school

Sarah James

Hume beat more than 50 applicants

Sara Hume started her position as the new curator of The Kent State University Museum Oct. 15.

“She has exactly the skills we need,” museum director Jean Druesedow said. “Clothing is a very interesting indicator of what’s going on in society. You need a historical background in order to place the garment properly in its context.”

Hume’s extensive background in art, history and costume made her an ideal candidate for the curator position, Druesedow added.

Hume interviewed for the position over the phone and was selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants.

Hume said she hopes to integrate the museum’s collection into other departments. Beyond the fashion school, Hume hopes to integrate the history and anthropology programs by creating exhibits that look at clothing from an academic perspective. She said she urges students and faculty to use the collection as a starting point for their own research.

Hume spent last year in Alsace, France studying the region’s distinctive folk costume and the ways it has been preserved. On her way to receive a doctorate degree in European studies with a focus on material culture, Hume is accustomed to using clothing as a source in historical analysis.

“Historians are often really opposed to the idea,” she said. “There is a lot of friction there. A lot of hardcore historians have a very traditional way.”

Although she had originally planned to return to the University of Chicago, Hume decided to apply for the curator position last May after reading the job description.

“I was just assuming I was moving back to Chicago,” she said. “I had an apartment lined up for next year. I had class commitments.”

As museum curator, Hume’s role is to research and interpret museum objects to the public through exhibition. The curator decides which objects to include in the exhibition and designs the final layout of the show.

“Figuring out what it (historic costumes) all means,” Hume said. “There is a lot of outreach.”

Druesedow said the curator is responsible for taking care of the collection as well as displaying it.

Hume received her undergraduate degree in art from Yale University. She has a master’s degree in museum studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and she is currently working on her dissertation for a doctorate degree from the University of Chicago.

Former curator Anne Bissonnette worked with the museum for 14 years. Bissonnette is now an assistant professor and curator at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Contact fashion reporter Sarah James at [email protected].