June 1, 2006
By DONNA LARCEN, Courant Staff Writer
Carol Dean Krute, curator of costume and textiles for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art for 15 years until her retirement last September, died Tuesday at her home in Staten Island. She was 65.
Krute was a combination of a scholar, storyteller and detective as she brought collections to life in the museum's compact costume gallery.
She made it easy for reporters to write about her shows, providing a richly detailed text to go with the often glamorous outfits. And she was funny and breezy as she pointed out details and dished the background on the owners of the clothes.
In a 1992 show about ball gowns she described the professional success of American haute couture designer Charles James and the personal transgressions that cost him his wife and patrons.
"He was absolutely the top of his field," she said. "But as Mrs. William Randolph Hearst said about him, `We must forgive geniuses their transgressions.'"
She scored a coup when she found one of only six petal stoles created by James. But she never did find a "mermaid dress" by Norman Norell.
She purchased costumes by Bakst, de Chirico, Matisse and Roerich for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes productions of "Le Spectre de la Rose," "The Rite of Spring" and "The Sleeping Princess," among others, at auction at Sotheby's London in 1996, said Susan Hood, spokeswoman for the museum.
Krute's most recent work for the Atheneum can be seen in the current show, "Revivals: Costumes for Song and Dance" (on view through Aug. 13), and the next, "Crewel World" (Sept. 23 to Feb. 25, 2007).
Krute came to the Atheneum after working as a curatorial assistant at the Brooklyn Museum for 10 years. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and Cornell University and received a master's of arts degree from the College of Staten Island. She worked in the fashion business as a children's clothing designer.
She commuted from the home in Staten Island that she shared with her husband, Frank Krute, and her children and grandchildren.
Details of services are forthcoming.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at