2001: A Space Odyssey Ape Costume Restoration & Mannequin

Our conservation, restoration and custom mannequin for a 2001: A Space Odyssey ape costume originally created by Stuart Freeborn for Kubrick’s classic film.

We were honored to be entrusted this unbelievably rare and valuable 2001: A Space Odyssey ape costume and would like to thank the Science Fiction Archives for entrusting us to conserve and display such an important piece of Hollywood history!

The 2001 costume arrived at our New York studio in mixed condition.  The fabric and fur bodysuit had only minimal damage.  The foam latex of the hands had seen quite a bit of wear.  Production wear and age also took their toll on the existing foot from the original costume, while the other foot was missing entirely and would need to be recreated during our restoration.

A customized semi-poseable mannequin would be required to achieve the proper fit and “ape” pose, specifically chosen to emulate the look of the mime artists who played the man apes in the film’s classic “Dawn of Man” sequence.  And though called “man apes” by production, this particular example is a female.  In fact, this costume was created with a functional nursing mechanism, so that the actor within could give milk to a live chimp baby, adding yet another layer of realism to the groundbreaking work.

The Tom Spina Designs Difference – As is often the case, our primary goal was to preserve and support, while maintaining the look and feel of this original movie costume.  Discussions with the client led to intentionally subtle restoration work, with emphasis on conservation of existing material and only minimal rebuilding or touch up.

The recreated foot echoes the rest of the original ape costume’s aged look.  Every effort was made to ensure that the added element would not distract from the original costume.  The customized body form includes some basic flexibility, allowing the client to make small tweaks to the arm pose, should they desire.  The museum style laminate base also hints at the monoliths from the film.

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