Presentation of Fashion in Museums

1 06 2007

I had the pleasure to listen to a keynote by Dr. Alexandra Palmer, Senior Curator at Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. Dr. Palmer topic was the visualization of the histories of fashion and textiles in museums. I have a passion for this topic. She states that textiles and fashion is presented in methods that mask signs of wear, alterations or histories. The reason according to Dr. Palmer is that it currently is considered “unfashionable”. I would like to know why it is that way? I am well aware it is up to each museum to interpret objects on display the way the curator decides, within the rules museums have to follow. But by masking the wear and tear of the clothes on display, don’t the museums make a wrong correction? The history of a garment is what makes it interesting. I find it interesting to go ‘backstage’ and study each garment. You can see signs of alterations. You can see signs of how ordinary people tried their best to follow the current fashion. That is a change from how it works today. Very few people alter any clothes. Clothes are not done to be altered, and more important very few people has the knowledge to do it.

How do you want museums to present/display their collection of fashion?




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