A Close look at 'The Art of the Character'

IU Bloomington faculty, staff and students have spent months bringing award-winning actress Glenn Close's costumes to life for their first campus exhibition.

A pink silk organza dress is pictured in the middle of an exhibition spaceView print quality image

Sneak preview

Grab the popcorn and stream these Glenn Close films before seeing the costumes in person at the Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Find out where to watch them
A striped prison costume is pictured next to two other black and white costumesView print quality image

Stars in stripes

A Cruella De Vil prison costume is among the favorites IU staff and students have worked with in preparation for the Glenn Close costume exhibition.

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Description of the following video:

The Art of the Character: Behind the Scenes

[ATAC editor’s note: Numbers before each entry represent minutes and seconds. Text in square brackets is added description. Text not in brackets is spoken text.]

[00:00] [VIDEO: A series of shots in the exhibition space, depicting costumes on mannequins.]

[00:05] [TEXT: “The Art of the Character: Highlights from the Glenn Close Costume Collection”]

[00:08] KELLY RICHARDSON: There are 14 productions represented, 14 films, 11 characters. So you’ll see everything from the very beginning of her career, a couple of pieces from "The World According to Garp," which came out in 1982, and that film was really the impetus for her collecting.

[00:09] [VIDEO: “Kelly Richardson: Curator, Sage Collection” appears at the bottom of the screen as Kelly Richardson speaks]

[00:14] [VIDEO: A pair of white shoes in a display case. Museum display text signage for "The World According to Garp." A white dress on a mannequin, with a dark colored jacket on the shoulders. White shoes in a display case.]

[00:26] GLENN CLOSE: I was lucky to get the things from "Garp," but it really started with "101 Dalmatians." I had it written into my contract and nobody thought anything of it until Disney realized how expensive all the costumes were. And, understandably, they wanted to make me a second set, and I said 'No, no, no, it has to the original costumes that stood for hours in the fitting room and saw come to life.' It is now automatically in my contract. Sometimes it’s just a representation of what I think is a look that defined that character, but it’s a living collection.

[00:28] [VIDEO: “Glenn Close: Award-winning actress” appears at the bottom of the screen as Glenn Close speaks]

[00:32] [VIDEO: Museum signage that reads “Glenn Close: Actor and collector. White-and-black striped boots on a mannequin next to a display of gold, diamond and pearl handcuffs. A python dress with a diamond wrist wrap, next to a tiger-striped cape, both on mannequins. A black-and-red beaded evening gown with the design of a dragon on the back. Dozens of dresses on mannequins in a costume exhibition display. A black-and-white hand muff. A dress made of plastic and bubblewrap on a mannequin with outstretched arms.]

[00:52] GLENN CLOSE: It is now automatically in my contract, sometimes it’s just a representation of what I think is a look that defined that character, but it’s a living collection.

[00:53] [VIDEO: Glenn Close speaking to the camera.]

[00:55] [VIDEO: Several dresses of different colors and designs on mannequins in a museum exhibition. A mannequin wearing a black suit and bowler hat, with dresses visible in the background. Four lightly colored costumes in a display next to museum signage that reads “Costuming the Contemporary.” A person fixing the collar of a dress. A gold beaded garment being wrapped in tissue paper.]

[01:05] KELLY RICHARDSON: We cannot damage these pieces; we have to treat them with utmost care. The idea is that she gave these to us and we'll be able to preserve them and keep them for generations of students and the public. So we have to figure out ways to show everything, but also be very gentle and approach everything with an eye toward conservation.

[01:13] [VIDEO: A woman pushes a cart down a hallway full of archival boxes. A woman teaches students in classroom with costumes and mannequins. A woman moves a garment wrapped in tissue paper inside an archival box. People dress a mannequin. A person lifts a dress from an archival box. 

[01:29] JACK BOARDMAN: The fact that I'll be able to say that I worked on an exhibition, especially an exhibition of this stature or this level, is definitely something I will be boasting about.

[01:29] [VIDEO: “Jack Boardman: Junior, fashion design & art history” appears at the bottom of the screen as Jack Boardman speaks]

[01:33] [VIDEO: Students fit a dress on a mannequin. A student ties a knot while other students work around him. Two students fix a dress on a mannequin.]

[01:40] JACK BOARDMAN:  One of the things I find really interesting is that a lot of the costumes have incredibly well-made understructures that you would never see otherwise? They are only visible to the person who puts the garment on, and so being able to see all the really meticulous understructure is really cool; it’s a great learning example.

[01:43] [VIDEO: A student tying a bow on the underside of a garment. A student fixing the collar of a garment. A student holding a garment while another works on it from behind. A group of people place a complicated garment on a mannequin.]

 [02:00] [VIDEO: A woman with purple archival gloves straightens the hem of a dress on a mannequin. A hat and scarf sit on the head of a mannequin wearing a print dress. Two women work on a dress at the end of a long hallway of shelves filled with archival boxes.]

[02:01] KELLY RICHARDSON: I have incredible appreciation now, after working with this collection for a few years, at all the effort and research and hours and hours and hours it takes to construct a beaded dress from "102 Dalmatians."

[02:11] [VIDEO: A beaded dragon face on a dress. Several dresses on mannequins in a museum display.]

[02:15] KELLY RICHARDSON: It’s really mind blowing. All of these sort of unknown and unsung people behind the scenes creating something that might be on screen for like 10 seconds, I mean, it’s just incredible.

[02:18] [VIDEO: Two costume dresses in a museum display. A patterned and lace dress. A medieval warrior costume on a mannequin. A mannequin with a white and black wig, a feathered hat and a red fur coat is framed by other mannequins in costumes]

[02:28] [VIDEO: Glenn Close speaking to the camera.]

[02:28] GLENN CLOSE: When we'd finally put on the final costume, I’d always have a parade through that work room so the women could see the result of all their hard work. And it was one of the most special moments I ever had with those costumes.

[02:31] [VIDEO: Several costumes in a museum display. More costumes of different colors in a museum display.]

[02:39] [VIDEO: Glenn Close speaking to the camera.]

[02:42] [VIDEO: Camera pans past a red-and-black costume before growing blurry.]

[02:44] [TEXT: “Indiana University iu.edu”]

Video by Tyler Lake, Indiana University

See "The Art of the Character" in person

What: An exhibition featuring 56 costumes that Glenn Close wore while portraying 11 characters from 14 productions.

Where: The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at IU Bloomington.

When: May 6 through Nov. 14.

How: The exhibition is free and open to the public. Visit the museum during its regular hours: noon to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday.

For additional information to help plan your visit, including parking and COVID-19 policies, visit the Eskenazi Museum's website.