Costume Historian Bobi Garland Is MassMu’s NEA Big Read Keynote Speaker

Costume historian Bobi Garland will be the keynote speaker for this year’s NEA Big Read, orchestrated by the Massillon Museum in partnership with the Massillon Public Library. The program will be held Thursday, April 6, at 7:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre (156 Lincoln Way East) in downtown Massillon. The event will be free and open to everyone with no reservations required.
Garland’s presentation will complement the book selected by the Massillon Museum for this year’s NEA Big Read, True Grit by Charles Portis. The keynote is one of 30 public events scheduled to enhance the community’s experience of reading the book.
From 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., immediately prior to the keynote address, the public is invited to visit the Massillon Museum (121 Lincoln Way East) during extended hours to view the second-floor exhibition, Westward Ho! True Grit Themes in Costumes and Artifacts, which includes costumes from the 2010 Coen Brothers’ Paramount Pictures film, True Grit, that Garland will discuss in her keynote address. TheWild (Mid)West exhibit, also part of the NEA Big Read, will be on view in the lower level.  
The theatre is just across the street from the Museum. Free parking—within easy walking distance of both venues—is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots.
Garland is uniquely qualified to talk about the True Grit costumes, as she worked with Academy Award nominee costume designer Mary Zophres, who designed the costumes for the film.  (Zophres was also nominated for an Academy Award for the costume design for La La Land.) For the exhibition, Paramount Pictures has loaned four costumes worn during filming by the main characters.
Actor Jeff Bridges wore the U.S. Marshall Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn costume that will appear in the exhibition, and Matt Damon wore the Texas Ranger La Beouf costume that will be displayed. Two of the costumes worn by actress Hailee Steinfeld, who played Mattie Ross, will be included.
Garland believes that how we dress is a powerful language that communicates who we are as individuals and as a people. She has consulted with Academy Award-winning costume designers at the world-famous Western Costume Company’s Costume Archive and Research Library.
Garland has worked closely with designers—Mary Zophres, Colleen Atwood, Arianne Phillips, Sandy Powell, and Janey Bryant—on film and television costuming projects.  As a museum collections manager, she supervised the growth of Western Costume Company’s valuable 6,000 piece film/television costume archive. The internship program she initiated there provided more than 200 students with training for careers in costume, library science, and museum studies.
Since 2014, Garland has worked as an independent consultant. Her clients have included Walt Disney Pictures, Electronic Arts, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas, and The Autry Museum. The legacy project she spearheaded with UCLA’s Department of Oral History to record the personal and professional stories of talented artists working in costume for film and television has become a valuable model.
Garland currently teaches Costume History at Otis College of Art and Design. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts, she also holds a certificate in Museum Collections Management from California State University Long Beach, which has honored her for outstanding contributions to education.
The Massillon Museum is one of only 77 organizations nationally—the only institution in Ohio—to receive NEA Big Read grant funding for the 2016–2017 cycle. MassMu will distribute 1,600 free copies of True Grit, along with calendar bookmarks, to local schools, organizations, and individuals. The Museum has been selected to participate in the NEA Big Read for ten consecutive years. By the end of this NEA Big Read project, it will have distributed 23,535 free books to encourage reading among local residents.
In addition to the NEA grant in partnership with Arts Midwest, funding is provided by Massillon/North Canton Elks #2029, Rotary Club of Massillon, and ArtsinStark. The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark to augment its primary local funding.
For more information, call the Massillon Museum at 330-833-4061 or visit  For a complete listing of local NEA Big Read events, pick up a bookmark at the Museum’s reception desk, where free books will be available as long as the supply lasts, or visit
Media Contacts:
Alexandra Nicholis Coon, Massillon Museum Executive Director  –  330-833-4061 x111
April Olsen, Massillon Museum Education and Outreach Manager / NEA Big Read Coordinator  –  330-833-4061 x104