See Glinda and Elphaba’s ‘Wicked’ Dresses in a New Exhibit at the McNay Art Museum

In the McNay Art Museum’s Tobin Theater Arts Gallery, it’s finally showtime.

After more than three years of work, Something Wicked | Susan Hilferty Costumes opened on September 8 and will remain on display until March 26, 2023.

“You can see all of these costumes taking shape as if they were on people walking out on stage,” says R. Scott Blackshire, Ph.D., curator of the museum’s Tobin Collection of Theater Arts.

Blackshire first came up with the idea for the exhibit three and a half years ago when he met Hilferty’s assistant on a trip to New York. Hilferty is a longtime friend of the Tobin Theater Arts Collection and has agreed, in conjunction with her staff and the McNay’s, to mount an exhibit which includes costumes from Hilferty’s personal collection as well as pieces on loan from the Nasty International tour, the Metropolitan Opera and elsewhere.

“It was like doing theater working with her,” Blackshire says.

Costume design for Ozians in Wicked, Susan Hilferty; Courtesy of the artist.

The exhibit opens with dresses worn by Glinda and Elphaba in Broadway’s Nastyincluding Glinda’s signature blue bubble dress, made from over 100,000 sequins and rarely loaned out for public display.

Kim Neptune, assistant curator of the Tobin Collection of Theater Arts, worked with museum staff and Hilferty, who traveled to San Antonio to finalize the exhibit, to carefully display each piece, inflating the bubble dress and gently waving the burgundy dress created for Morrible. in Nasty which is displayed nearby.

Nasty is always so important to people,” says Neptune, who says the show was one that made him fall in love with costume design. “Guests will be able to relive the show just by seeing certain pieces.”

As part of the exhibit, guests can view the Tony Award Hilferty won for Best Costume Design in Nasty next to a coat she wore to the awards show that was embroidered with the names of everyone she worked with on the production.

In addition to costumes, crowns, shoes and other objects of Nasty, the exhibition features works from throughout Hilferty’s career. Visitors will see the dress of the Queen of Hearts from Wonderlandpieces made for the Metropolitan Opera production of Rigoletto, broadway outfits Wonderland and many more.

Behind the main exhibit, the McNay pays tribute to all the designers who help turn Hilferty’s visions into reality and also provides insight into the process of designing his costumes.

The back wall displays dozens of his sketches, while nearby guests can examine the costumes that are still being made and being designed for the 2024 premier. Aida.

Neptune says Hilferty is known for her ability to put manufacturers – from seamstresses to leatherworkers to wig makers – to the test, believing that if she can push them to accomplish something new, there is no no limit to what she can conceive.

“It’s very personal for her,” Neptune says of the collection on display.


Something Wicked | Susan Hilferty Costumes

Sep 8-Mar 26, 2023

McNay Art Museum

6000 N. New Braunfels Ave.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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