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