From Sparkling T-Shirts to Red Wedding Dresses: Inside Taylor Swift's Storyteller Exhibition at MAD

“I Bet You Think About Me” video still: courtesy of TAS Rights Management

This summer, Taylor Swift is celebrating her versatile discography on the Eras Tour, taking fans on a strut down memory lane. The Grammy-winning artist performs songs from each of her 10 albums, donning costumes, sets, and visuals to match. It’s a showcase her devoted Swifties have waited years for and lucky for them, the Museum of Art and Design’s Taylor Swift: Storyteller exhibition comes at the perfect time, granting an up close look at over 50 pieces from Swift’s personal archives.

Spanning from 2006 to 2022, Storyteller is a true deep-dive into each of Swift’s reinventions, exploring her growth as a country singer turned multi-hyphenate pop star. As fans make their way through the exhibition they traverse through her eras, getting a more intimate look at the immense level of detail put into her craft. While it’s known that Swift responds to the cultural conversation surrounding her at the time of an album’s release within her songwriting – often tackling sexism and her experiences as a woman living in the public eye – the displays of couture costumes, intricately-designed props, and accompanying ephemera reveal just how much has gone into bringing her evocative work to life on stage and on screen over the last 17 years.

From the excitement of her early twenties aptly expressed by a single phrase on a sparkling t-shirt to the experience of pandemic isolation conveyed by a casual, striped top, the exhibition contains archives of her wardrobe both past and present. As the singer has gone on to re-record her albums to gain control of her masters again, the reflection on her work becomes even more prevalent. Previous eras are returned to with extravagance and respect. The red wedding dress displayed from the “I Bet You Think About Me” music video, a track newly released “From the Vault” on Red (Taylor’s Version), revisits that moment in Swift’s career with care, expanding on the original aesthetics with a matured approach in design. It’s details like that that make it clear that Swift recognizes how much her art means to her fans as well as her own legacy.

Whether one wants to see the bedazzled cowboy boots that started it all or the bejeweled ensemble worn in a music video for her latest album Midnights, Taylor Swift: Storyteller will be on view exclusively at the MAD through September 4, 2023.

Installation view of Taylor Swift: Storyteller at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (May 20, 2023 to September 4, 2023).

Photo by Bruce M. White; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design.