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Calling All Fashion and Design Mavens!

Alice W. Schwarz
April 28, 2010

The Met Hosts a T-Shirt Design Competition Exclusively for Teens

«What do you get when you mix a groundbreaking exhibition, a cutting-edge curatorial team, two enthusiastic Museum educators, and a great American fashion company? A T-shirt design competition for teens!»

Ever since Project Runway first featured the Met in 2008, I have wanted to host a design contest for teens inspired by our collections. The Museum is the perfect place to inspire high school students interested in fashion. Our encyclopedic collection spans the world and the history of human artistic contribution, and is open to all teens, whether for quiet personal reflection or in the company of friends.

The exhibition American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity, which opens at the Met on May 5 and is organized by the Museum's Costume Institute, focuses on seven archetypes of American femininity. While planning events related to the show, fellow Museum educator Aimee Dixon and I met with Costume Institute curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton to brainstorm ideas for teen programs. Andrew mentioned that the exhibition sponsor, Gap, would be creating seven T-shirts based on the feminine archetypes explored in the show. It became clear to all of us that this was the perfect opportunity to organize a T-shirt design competition for teens.

So for all of you teens out there: visit the exhibition American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity at the Met, on view May 5 through August 15, and the companion exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection (on view May 7 through August 1), and let the creative juices flow. Both exhibitions highlight American style and celebrate the transfer of the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection to the Met. Spend time in either or both exhibitions studying a single dress or an entire gallery. Get ideas from the details of an ensemble or from a fashion theme in the exhibition—then create your own T-shirt design. Check the details below for how to submit your design. I look forward to seeing your creations!

Here's the Scoop on How to Enter

  • If you are between the ages of 15 and 18 and enrolled in high school you are eligible to enter the competition.
  • Visit one or both of the fashion exhibitions American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection at the Brooklyn Museum. Be sure to keep the Metropolitan Museum admission button and/or Brooklyn Museum admission tag to submit with your entry.
  • Illustrate a design for a T-shirt inspired by a costume or theme in either of the exhibitions. Colored illustrations must be 2-D only and presented on an 11 x 14–inch board. Include designs for both the front and back of the T-shirt and present them on one side of the board. Optional: you may include fabric swatches, trim, etc. as long as they are attached to the illustration board. We will judge illustrations only; please do not submit actual designed T-shirts. Limit is one entry per person.
  • Complete and submit the online entry form, which includes a brief essay describing how the exhibition(s) influenced your design. Once you have submitted this form, print the confirmation email to include in your submission package. Your parent or guardian must sign this confirmation of your entry form.
  • Mail your entry to: Teen Programs/T-Shirt Design Competition, Education, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028-0198. Your design entry must be postmarked by Monday, June 14, 2010. Hand deliveries will not be accepted.

Here's the Good Part

A panel of fashion world judges will review the illustrated T-shirt design entries. They will evaluate submissions based on creativity, execution of presentation, and visual expression. Winners will be notified by telephone no later than July 10, 2010. All decisions are final.

Each of the three finalists shall win:

  • Publication of his or her design entry, headshot, and bio on
  • An exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of The Costume Institute and The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • A complimentary exhibition catalogue and American Woman exhibition T-shirt
  • Recognition at the award ceremony on Saturday, July 17, 2010 (see below)

I didn't want the fun to end there, so we've planned two other special teen events this summer: A Conversation with Two Artists: Fashion! on Friday, May 14, and Teen Festival of Fashion: From Suffragists to Sirens on Saturday, July 17, 2010. I hope to see you there.

Have any questions? Email

Alice W. Schwarz is Museum educator in charge of Teen Programs.

Alice Schwarz

Alice W. Schwarz is a Museum educator in the Education Department.