collection SC.166 - Adrian exhibition papers, 1920-1972 (bulk 1970-1972)

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Adrian exhibition papers, 1920-1972 (bulk 1970-1972)


  • 1920-1972 (bulk 1970-1972) (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 linear foot; papers, photographic materials

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

"Robert Riley, an expert on fashion design who oversaw collections and organized design shows at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Fashion Institute of Technology, died on Oct. 6 at a hospital in Hyannis, Mass. He was 90 and lived in Truro, Mass. Mr. Riley retired in 1981 after two decades as director of the design laboratory of the Fashion Institute, in Manhattan. Earlier he held posts in the design field at the Brooklyn Museum for decades. Looking back in 1981 at recent fashion history, he said ruefully, ''The social upheaval of the 50's and 60's broke the back of the fashion business so that people are no longer concerned with how they look or with what's coming out of Paris.'' Some weeks before he left the Fashion Institute, he oversaw his last costume show there, a retrospective of the work of the noted textile and fabric designer Mario Fortuny. One fashion writer wrote of Mr. Riley at the time that the exhibition reflected ''the teamwork, good planning and unerring eye that are his trademarks.''"

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Museum at FIT was founded in 1969 under the name Design Laboratory with the idea that it would support the courses at the school. The museum's first exhibitions were organized in the 1970s. These early shows relied on a long-term loan from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Since that time, the museum has amassed its own collection, that today consists of more than 50,000 garments and accessories ranging from the eighteenth century to the present. The Board of Trustees of FIT changed the name from Design Laboratory to The Museum at FIT in 1993. In 2012, the museum was awarded accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. In addition to exhibition, the museum holds an annual Symposium, beginning in 2003.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection holds documents and photographic materials including correspondence between Robert Riley, Janet Gaynor, and others concerning research for the FIT exhibition, Adrian Retrospective, 1971.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged in 8 folders by subject

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access is open to researchers by appointment at the Fashion Institute of Technology Library, Department of Special Collections and College Archives. If you have any questions, or wish to schedule an appointment contact us at or call (212) 217-4385.

Conditions governing reproduction

The Department of Special Collections and College Archives does not own copyright for all material held in its physical custody. It is the researcher's obligation to abide by and satisfy copyright law ( when copying or using materials (including digital materials) found in or made available from the department. When possible, the department will inform a researcher about the copyright status of material, the researcher's obligations with regard to such material, and, wherever possible, the owner or owners of the copyrights. Any and all reproduction of originals is at the archivist's discretion.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The Library of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Department of Special Collections and College Archives, 27th St. at 7th Ave., NY, NY , USA, 10001

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Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion


  • English


  • Latin


Archivist's note

Collection processed by Samantha Levin in March, 2024; collection was previously arranged by an employee of the FIT Library.

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