m.t.v

Inside Taylor Swift’s Quarter-Life Retrospective by the Grammy Museum

One of the museum’s most successful exhibits ever arrives in New York.

by KENZIE BRYANT
NOVEMBER 18, 2016 5:51 PM

“The Taylor Swift Experience,” an exhibit on the life and accolades of 26-year-old Taylor Swift that the Grammy Museum put together, starts at the very beginning. Ensconced in a glass case is Swift’s first ever outfit, the “hooded sweater gown” in which her parents took her home from the hospital. The tiny dress would be deemed super cute by any fair standards, but it’s also perceptively ordinary. It’s a woven garment that could have been worn by any baby carted home by any parents in any place; it just happened to be the first look of a 10-time Grammy-winning, world-class musician.

The gown, along with some other pieces from the first few years of Swift’s life, are new additions to the exhibit, which just moved from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where it resided for nearly a year, to a two-story space in New York’s Seaport District. The newest iteration opened Friday morning. I didn’t see the exhibit when it was in L.A., but the baby clothes along with a few other curiosities from her childhood seem to give it an important bookend to the story it’s trying to tell—that is, this everygirl has been grinding since day one, and that’s why a quarter-life retrospective is warranted at a museum that’s put together similar shows for Whitney Houston and Frank Sinatra.

“It’s important for us to have [the childhood items] in this exhibit because we really want the fans and the visitors to go through the journey with her,” Nwaka Onwusa, the exhibit’s curator, told Vanity Fair. “This wasn’t an overnight success. Taylor’s been working at her career since she could talk, so we captured those moments in videos, like [the home-video installation] ‘Taylor Swift in Her Own Words,’ where you can really see her in those baby clothes, coming from the hospital to banging on a little piano to just singing along at the radio.”

The first installation, located beside the glass case holding Swift’s baby clothes, is full of childhood ephemera. A collage of family photos, children’s books she owned, and framed glamour shots of the singer and her brother that look like they were plucked from her parent’s mantel, are among its artifacts. But the kid stuff is quickly interrupted by the flowing green dress that she wore in her “Teardrops on My Guitar” video in 2009, and the handwritten (and hand-bedazzled) letters she’d send to record producers. Though she wasn’t an “overnight success,” she was an early success.

The carefully assembled evidence of nose-to-the-grindstone work is one of the reasons it doesn’t seem strange that a person in the spring of her life has essentially a museum dedicated to her. In fact, with the sheer volume of meticulously laid-out items—from Grammy-performance costumes to tour costumes to red-carpet dresses to guitars to the giant silver piano from her 1989 tour—a visitor can almost forget the singer is just 26 years old.

The exhibit keeps getting bigger every year, as one might expect for a life in media res. The dress she wore while giving the now-legendary 2016 Grammys speech in which she alluded to her appearance in Kanye’s “Famous,” now sits adjacent to the M.T.V. Video Music Awards momentthey shared in 2009. A video compilation of her 13-hour fan meet-and-greet in Nashville in 2010 is across the room from a flat-screen playing home videos on loop with Swift voice-over, narrating her origin story, from Reading, Pennsylvania to Nashville, Tennessee. The story is never over until it’s over, and—I can’t stress this enough—Swift is 26 years old; her story is nowhere near over.

vanityfair.com
Inside Taylor Swift’s Quarter-Life Retrospective by the Grammy Museum
One of the museum’s most successful exhibits ever arrives in New York.
By Kenzie Bryant

“The Taylor Swift Experience,” an exhibit on the life and accolades of 26-year-old Taylor Swift that the Grammy Museum put together, starts at the very beginning. Ensconced in a glass case is Swift’s first ever outfit, the “hooded sweater gown” in which her parents took her home from the hospital. The tiny dress would be deemed super cute by any fair standards, but it’s also perceptively ordinary. It’s a woven garment that could have been worn by any baby carted home by any parents in any place; it just happened to be the first look of a 10-time Grammy-winning, world-class musician.

The gown, along with some other pieces from the first few years of Swift’s life, are new additions to the exhibit, which just moved from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where it resided for nearly a year, to a two-story space in New York’s Seaport District. The newest iteration opened Friday morning. I didn’t see the exhibit when it was in L.A., but the baby clothes along with a few other curiosities from her childhood seem to give it an important bookend to the story it’s trying to tell—that is, this everygirl has been grinding since day one, and that’s why a quarter-life retrospective is warranted at a museum that’s put together similar shows for Whitney Houston and Frank Sinatra.

“It’s important for us to have [the childhood items] in this exhibit because we really want the fans and the visitors to go through the journey with her,” Nwaka Onwusa, the exhibit’s curator, told Vanity Fair. “This wasn’t an overnight success. Taylor’s been working at her career since she could talk, so we captured those moments in videos, like [the home-video installation] ‘Taylor Swift in Her Own Words,’ where you can really see her in those baby clothes, coming from the hospital to banging on a little piano to just singing along at the radio.”

The first installation, located beside the glass case holding Swift’s baby clothes, is full of childhood ephemera. A collage of family photos, children’s books she owned, and framed glamour shots of the singer and her brother that look like they were plucked from her parent’s mantel, are among its artifacts. But the kid stuff is quickly interrupted by the flowing green dress that she wore in her “Teardrops on My Guitar” video in 2009, and the handwritten (and hand-bedazzled) letters she’d send to record producers. Though she wasn’t an “overnight success,” she was an early success.

The carefully assembled evidence of nose-to-the-grindstone work is one of the reasons it doesn’t seem strange that a person in the spring of her life has essentially a museum dedicated to her. In fact, with the sheer volume of meticulously laid-out items—from Grammy-performance costumes to tour costumes to red-carpet dresses to guitars to the giant silver piano from her 1989 tour—a visitor can almost forget the singer is just 26 years old.

The exhibit keeps getting bigger every year, as one might expect for a life in media res. The dress she wore while giving the now-legendary 2016 Grammys speech in which she alluded to her appearance in Kanye’s “Famous,” now sits adjacent to the M.T.V. Video Music Awards moment they shared in 2009. A video compilation of her 13-hour fan meet-and-greet in Nashville in 2010 is across the room from a flat-screen playing home videos on loop with Swift voice-over, narrating her origin story, from Reading, Pennsylvania to Nashville, Tennessee. The story is never over until it’s over, and—I can’t stress this enough—Swift is 26 years old; her story is nowhere near over.

Narcissistic list of things that bother me...

but are in fact not that big a deal.

- I have to order my school books.

- My skin is really dry.

- The 7 and 2 on my remote (M.T.V), know the sweet caress of my hands far far too well.

- I haven’t read anything of merit in far too long.

- I could probably use a job, but I don’t much like interacting with people I haven’t pre-approved of.

- I need a higher coverage white paint and keep forgetting to get it.

- I need a copy of a Billy Collins poetry collection so I can read it, pick a poem, and write a poem to submit for this writing contest, but I don’t feel like ordering it from the library.

- My pants are all worn out, I have to go jean shopping, I hate feeling fat.

- I’ve convinced myself of a lot of untruths this summer.

- My bed knows me better than my best friends.

- I can’t properly separate from my mother the way someone my age should have a long time ago… What? She’s nice, smart, and pays for my weed, don’t judge.

- I’m worried that this list is either too long or not long enough, either way I am worrying about this list in an unhealthy manner.