About \\ Curators

Curatorial profile

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Petra Slinkard, The Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles


Petra joined PEM in 2018, following her role as Curator of Costume at the Chicago History Museum, where she worked with a collection of more than 50,000 examples of fashion and textiles for exhibitions and research, acquisition and community outreach.

At PEM, Slinkard’s focus is to foster the growth and innovative, inclusive spirit of the museum’s celebrated fashion initiative and to develop a vibrant array of exhibitions, installations and programming that celebrate the global impact and reach of fashion. She aims to strategically enhance the museum’s collection of fashion, costumes and textiles from around the world — spanning the 17th-century through today, and work with the museum’s new Fashion Visiting Committee.

Petra conceived and curated the exhibitions, Chicago Styled: Fashioning The Magnificent Mile®, and Making Mainbocher | The First American Couturier, for which she authored catalogues of the same titles. Prior to CHM she worked at Newfields (Indianapolis Museum of Art), where she helped expand the museum's fashion exhibition offerings and collection, as well as key public programs and its Fashion Arts Society. At Newfields (IMA) she helped to shape a number of exhibitions such as An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse, Body Unbound: Contemporary Couture from the IMA's Collection, and co-curated Ball-Nogues Studio: Gravtiy's Loom. She is an active member of the Costume Society of America (CSA) and the American Association of Museum Curators (AAMC). She served as a national and regional board member for CSA, a juror for the Milla Davenport Publication Award and the chair for the Richard Martin Exhibition Award Committee. She frequently teaches and lectures students and the public on the topics of fashion and design history, museum studies, and adornment as it pertains to the study of cultural and sub-cultural dress. Petra is a graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising, a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a concentration in Modern and Contemporary Art and a Master of Science in Fashion/Textile History. In 2017 she was recognized as one of the University’s '20 under 40' most distinguished alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences and joined the advisory board for I.U.’s newly established School of Art, Architecture and Design.

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