Museum Day Live!

As part of the national Smithsonian celebration, The Mint Museum will offer free admission at both locations, a new special exhibition opening, and an array of special events! If you only visit the Mint one day this year, this is the one!Read More

Mint to Debut “William Ivey Long: Costume Designs 2007-2016”

New exhibition to bring new admission fee policy

From Broadway to the television screen, the exhibition William Ivey Long: Costume Designs 2007-2016 will offer backstage access to the art of costume design from September 23, 2017 through June 3, 2018.

The opening, the centerpiece of a weekend-long celebration at the Mint, will also feature a free-admission community day on September 23 and brings the first of three exhibitions during the “Year of Fashion” at the Mint.

“The Mint has collected fashion for over 40 years, and has organized many exhibitions around this important art form, but this marks the first time we have focused specifically on theatrical costume design,” said Annie Carlano, senior curator of Craft, Design, & Fashion at the Mint, and co-curator of the Mint-organized exhibition. Adds Rebecca E. Elliot, assistant curator of Craft, Design, & Fashion at the Mint and exhibition co-curator: “This exhibition offers viewers a rare, close-up vantage point from which they will see the excellent craftsmanship of the costumes, as well as how William Ivey Long uses colors, silhouettes, and other elements of costume design to create characters.”

Visitors will experience sumptuous and elaborate costumes, faithful period recreations, and innovative fantasy creations – all a testament to Long’s extraordinary talent and imagination. Idea boards, fabric swatches, and exquisite drawings by Long elucidate his working methods, from inspiration to finished costume.

The exhibition begins with a glimpse into his designs and working methods, in an immersive studio environment with interactive features and a library of costume and fashion books. It focuses primarily on his most recent work from the past 10 years, including The Lost Colony (redesigned in 2007–2008), the story of the settlement of Roanoke Island in 1587, and a beloved tradition for many families across our state. Also included are the Broadway revivals of The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012) and On the Twentieth Century (2015); the Broadway musical Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (2013); the Kennedy Center’s original production Little Dancer (2014); and the television specials Grease Live! and The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (both 2016). Drawing mainly from Long’s studio archive, the exhibition includes sketches, fitting photographs, and other preparatory materials, as well as finished costumes.

Born in Raleigh in 1947, Long is one of the most renowned theatrical costume designers working today. Raised in the world of theater, he grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He began graduate training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but ultimately transferred to the Yale School of Drama where he earned an MFA in set design in 1975. Long then apprenticed in New York under the couturier Charles James, whom Long calls “the ultimate costume architect.”

“Fashion design and costume design are similar in that both involve mounting shows whose story is told through clothing,” said Long. “Mr. James was both my fashion mentor and hero, and he taught me a great deal about how to tell a very effective story through garments.”

Long has received Tony Awards for Nine (1982), Crazy for You (1992), The Producers (2001), Hairspray (2003), Grey Gardens (2006), and most recently, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (2013). He has designed costumes for hundreds of other projects, including operas, dance performances, films, television shows, and performers such as the Rolling Stones.

The exhibition is presented to the Charlotte community with generous support from Wells Fargo Private Bank, with additional corporate support provided by J.P. Morgan and Novant Health. It was also made possible by substantial contributions from the Mint Museum Auxiliary and Friends of William Ivey Long.

It is accompanied by a scholarly book, William Ivey Long Costume Designs 2007-2016, published by the Mint and distributed by Yale University Press. The book tells the story of this American legend through a review of his illustrious career and an analysis of his work. It was edited and co-authored by Carlano with essays from contributors Elliot and Peter Marks, chief theater critic at The Washington Post. It is available in the Mint Museum Shops for $45 and media preview copies are available.


The public is invited to view the exhibition FREE on Saturday, September 23 as part of the Mint’s celebration of the national Museum Day Live! observance organized by Smithsonian Magazine. Museums throughout the nation are offering free or reduced admission and other special events throughout the day.

The Mint will offer special “Member Moment” gallery tours with Long himself at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (free to Mint members); a free lecture by Long at 2:30 p.m. (open to all); and a book signing in the Mint Museum Uptown Shop at 4 p.m. Additionally, the Mint will offer free live outdoor “Jazzin’ on the Terrace” at noon in celebration of Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden and celebrations occurring at nearby Romare Bearden Park. Details on this and other programming occurring throughout the exhibition are available .

Blumenthal Performing Arts is collaborating with the exhibition by hosting a special “Tribute Concert to William Ivey Long” on February 24, 2018 at Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts. The gala concert will include songs from the shows featuring Long’s designs, as well as tributes and video stories from his friends. More information will be available via and closer to the date.

Beginning on Sunday, September 24, the Mint will implement a new admission policy which eliminates fees to visit special exhibitions, and will change general admission to $15 per adult (discounts for students and seniors; children under 5 and Mint members admitted free). Formerly, special exhibition visitors paid up to $24 per adult general admission.

The new admission policy is aimed at increasing public access to the Mint’s special exhibitions, which will now always be open FREE during the Mint’s free admission hours from 5-9 p.m. on Wednesdays (formerly, an exhibition surcharge applied during those hours).

“Back in 2013, we began the policy of charging additional fees for special exhibitions as a way to drive membership – we inspired more visitors to become members and receive a year of unlimited admissions,” said Hillary Cooper, the Mint’s director of advancement & communications. “However, our admission trends suggested that the fee was a barrier for some visitors and was keeping people from viewing our special exhibitions. We are thrilled to be able to eliminate this barrier and increase visitation for the Mint’s special exhibitions.”

The policy will apply to other special exhibitions throughout the year including the two remaining “ Year of Fashion ” exhibitions –Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture and Fabulous Fashion , on view October 14, 2017 through February 4, 2018 at Mint Museum Randolph; and The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta, on view in spring and summer 2018 at Mint Museum Randolph. It also applies to Develar y Detonar: Contemporary Mexican Photography , opening October 28 at Mint Museum Uptown as part of the seven-institution In Focus/Enfoque project. Details of upcoming exhibitions are available at and images for media use are available upon request.

Media and special guests are invited to preview this exhibition at 10 a.m. on Thursday, September 21 at Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts, 500 South Tryon Street. Long is scheduled to attend; he and exhibition curators will give a gallery tour and other staff will be available for interviews. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP to

The Mint Museum announces the “Year of Fashion”

Museum to host three extraordinary exhibitions, launch new fashion initiative in the coming fiscal year

The Mint Museum, long renowned for holding one of the largest and most significant Fashion Collections in the Southeastern United States, will celebrate the art form with its upcoming “Year of Fashion,” the museum announced today to attendees of its annual gala.

Weston M. Andress, chairman of the Mint’s Board of Trustees, issued a proclamation declaring the “Year of Fashion” to 400 attendees at the sold-out Coveted Couture gala, an annual fundraising event permanently devoted to celebrating the Mint’s collection, conservation, study, and exhibition of fashions both historic and contemporary. The “Year of Fashion” will span the museum’s next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017 and continuing through June 30, 2018.

“Today we celebrate the Mint for delivering relevant and compelling exhibitions and programming that engages all members of our diverse global community, and we are thrilled that we will be able to introduce new concepts of art to our community through this year-long focus on fashion,” Andress said.

“Fashion design is like kinetic sculpture, and leading couturiers are like master architects who build with fabric and applied elements using the body as armature,” said Annie Carlano, Senior Curator of Craft, Design, & Fashion at the Mint. “Our relationship with fashion is both universal and personal; fashion reflects the times we live in and who we are.”

The “Year of Fashion” will center around three exhibitions to be on view throughout the year, and is also accompanied by a major financial gift provided by loyal Mint supporters Ann and Michael Tarwater. In honor of his wife Ann, Michael Tarwater has given a lead gift to launch a Fashion Initiative at Mint Museum Randolph to enhance the storage, study, exhibition, and development of innovative immersive programs around fashion in years to come. “The Tarwaters believe the Mint should be the fashion leader in our region – and beyond.  They see fashion design as one of the most engaging and meaningful art forms, with rich aesthetic and cultural associations, and a gateway to understanding style through the ages. They are dedicated to making Charlotte a great city for all, and that includes robust support for the arts. With this lead gift for a dynamic fashion presence at the Mint, Ann and Michael are giving back to the city that has been their home for more than 30 years, and we cannot thank them enough,” said Carlano. Further details of the Fashion Initiative will be made public during the coming months.

The three exhibitions to be hosted at the Mint are:

  • William Ivey Long: Costume Designs 2007-2016 . On view at Mint Museum Uptown from September 23, 2017 through June 3, 2018. North Carolina native William Ivey Long is one of the most renowned theatrical costume designers working today. Since the beginning of his career in the 1970s, he has designed over 70 Broadway shows, has won six Tony awards and received 15 nominations, and has earned many other honors and accolades. The exhibition will explore William Ivey Long’s most recent work, from 2007 to today. It will focus on his process, featuring sketches, swatches, mood boards, and other preparatory materials in addition to the costumes themselves. The exhibition, co-curated by Carlano, and Rebecca Elliot, Assistant Curator for Craft, Design, & Fashion, will provide visitors with exposure to this form of art and allow for comparison of the different goals of theatrical costume and fashion.
  • Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture and Fabulous Fashion. On view at Mint Museum Randolph from October 14, 2017 through early 2018. This is the first of a series of Craft, Design, & Fashion exhibitions featuring significant collections and collectors in Charlotte. Curated by Carlano, Charlotte Collects is an exhibition that takes an intimate look at important fashion designs in the collections of several fashion leaders in our community. From exquisite bespoke creations by couturier Giambattista Valli, to the innovative designs by Issey Miyake and elegant minimalism of Jason Wu, the exhibition strives to present a wide range of 21st century fashion through the personal stories of each of these collectors, with the goal of both celebrating these women, and building excitement for the future of fashion at Mint Museum Randolph.  Informative and dynamic, the installation will include runway videos.
  • An exhibition of fashion designs by Oscar de la Renta, scheduled to be on view in spring 2018 at Mint Museum Randolph. Organized in close collaboration with the House of Oscar de la Renta and the designer’s family, the exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta. It is scheduled to debut at the Mint next spring following its recently announced run at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this fall. It is anticipated to contain fashions made during the span of his career in Spain, Paris, and New York. The Mint hosted the late designer for a fashion show fundraiser organized by the Mint Museum Auxiliary in 2011.

Wells Fargo Private Bank has signed on as presenting sponsor of both the William Ivey Long and Oscar de la Renta exhibitions, as well as serving as lead sponsor of this year’s Coveted Couture gala. “Wells Fargo Private Bank is pleased to help the Mint present these signature exhibitions to the community,” said Jay Everette, Community Affairs Manager, Wells Fargo Foundation, and co-chair of this year’s Coveted Couture gala. “The intersection of art, fashion, costume, and design offers incredibly rich content and concepts to explore through both exhibition presentation and community programming.”

“The Mint thanks Wells Fargo, the Tarwater family, the Auxiliary, and all of the hundreds of other individual, corporate, and foundation sponsors who make possible our ability to continue to present these groundbreaking exhibitions to our community,” said Carlano.

The Mint also announced Saturday that the next Coveted Couture gala will be timed to coincide with the opening of the Oscar de la Renta exhibition, and will be co-chaired by Charlotte fashion industry leaders Laura Vinroot Poole and Perry Poole. More information on the plans will be available later in 2017 at .

Above image: Lisa Dargan in couture by Giambattista Valli, 2014. Photograph by Gately Williams. From the upcoming exhibition Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture and Fabulous Fashion.