ONWARD AND UPWARD: For many in the fashion crowd, Nancy Chilton’s name has been synonymous with The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. She has taken on a larger role, having been promoted to chief external relations officer for the Costume Institute.
For four years, Chilton has served as chief communications officer for the department. In her new post, she will continue to head communications for the Costume Institute’s exhibitions, special projects and the Met Gala. (The latter alone would seem like a year-round job, given the hundreds that turn out for the exhibition preview, and the more curated crowd for the black-tie event.)
Chilton will oversee additional institutional priorities, philanthropic programs, working closely on sponsorship relationships and other outreach with development. “Every year you talk about the exhibition for months beforehand, write about it and select images to tell the story. But the best moment is when you walk through the galleries with [curator in charge] Andrew Bolton and you see it actually come to life. And the day after the [Met] Gala walking through the galleries and actually seeing the public engaged with it and overhearing comments and reactions — those are always the best moments,” Chilton said.
As for standout moments, Chilton has many. In a phone interview Friday, she said, “All the work that went into the documentary ‘The First Monday in May,’ and then seeing how beautifully it came out was great. Having Michelle Obama cut the ribbon for the Anna Wintour Costume Center was a great moment. The whole China exhibition experience of going to Beijing and doing a press event in the Forbidden City was incredible. And this past year going to do a press event in Rome with the Vatican and having it snow 4 inches the morning of the press event, when it never snows in Rome — ever. And somehow managing to do the press event any way even though the trains weren’t running from Milan — all those crazy challenges.”
In recent years, the Met has seen a boom in attendance driven in part by such Costume Institute exhibitions as the 2015 “China: Through the Looking Glass.” For the fiscal year ended June 30, the museum hit a record high of more than 7.35 million for attendance at its three locations: The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer. This year’s numbers will be historic for the Costume Institute. In late August, the Costume Institute’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” passed the one-million visitor mark, making it the institute’s most visited exhibition and the third most visited one for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (The show closes Oct. 8.)