The museum is best known for its innovative special exhibitions. The museum also has a permanent collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present, with particular strength in 20th-century designer fashion.

On the main floor, the Fashion and Textile History Gallery provides on-going historical context. It is the only permanent fashion history exhibition in the U.S. and features a rotating selection of approximately 200 historically and artistically significant objects from the museum’s permanent collection. Every six months, the exhibition in the gallery is completely changed, although it always covers 250 years of fashion history.

Gallery FIT, also located on the main floor, is dedicated to student and faculty exhibitions.