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Blum, Stella (1916–1985) - Curator, Fashion History

museum york costume institute

Stella Blum was born in Schenectady, New York, on October 19, 1916, to Joseph Biercuk, a machinist, and Mary (Kiskiel) Biercuk. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1938 with a B.F.A., then attended New York University, Queens College (now City University of New York), and the New York Institute of Fine Arts. She married George A. Blum, a travel agent, in 1939. In 1940 she was on the staff of the Museum of Costume Art in New York. Blum left in 1942 to raise two sons, then returned in 1953. (The Museum of Costume Art had been renamed the Costume Institute and had become part of the Metropolitan Museum.) Blum was assistant curator at the museum from 1953 to 1970, associate curator from 1970 to 1972, and curator of costumes for the Costume Institute from 1970 to 1973.

Blum published Victorian Fashion Costumes as Seen in Harper’s Bazaar 1867–98 in 1974; Designs by Erté in 1976. She edited and wrote the introduction to Ackermann’s Costume Plates: Women’s Fashions in England, 1818–1828 by Rudolph Ackermann in 1978. She also wrote Everyday Fashions of the Twenties as Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogues, 1919–31 in 1982 and Everyday Fashions of the Thirties as Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogues, 1919–31 , which was published posthumously in 1986. She began cataloguing exhibitions in Australia, Switzerland, and Japan and was guest curator for the Detroit Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Arts, Portland Museum of Art, and St. Louis Museum. She left the Metropolitan Museum to open a new center for the decorative arts and costumes at Kent State University in Ohio from 1983 to 1985. Stella Blum died of cancer in Ravenna, Ohio, on July 31, 1985.

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