Why Costume Collections Matter Exhibit at The Museum of Vancouver

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The Museum of Vancouver (“MOV”) presents Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter, a new feature exhibition featuring women’s fashion from 1750-2000. Clothing not only expresses aspects of a wearer’s identity, but it also reveals much about the larger context of production.

Evening Dress, c. 1863
Evening Dress c. 1863 Museum of Vancouver Photo

Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter

  • When: Opening March 16, 2023 until November, 2023
  • Where: Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver
  • Regular admission rates apply

Clothing is the most personal of artefacts, revealing so much about who we are, what we do and what we value. Clothing conveys information about occupation, social and economic status, gender and cultural identity and political and religious affiliation. As products of available raw materials, textile technologies, designs and styles, what we wear connects us to local and global stories of resource extraction, trade, labour and technology.

Four remarkable local collectors have recognized the importance of preserving costumes to document the past and inspire our present and future. Ivan Sayers, Claus Jahnke, Melanie Talkington and the members of the BC Society for the Museum of Original Costume (“SMOC”) are fashion historians with significant collections that feature some of the rarest garments and fabrics in the world. The Museum of Vancouver has invited these collectors to share their deep knowledge of costume history by showcasing pieces from their collections.

The exhibition features 43 full costumes, 5 corsets, 31 pairs of shoes, 28 hats, 10 handbags, 8 fans, and undergarments too numerous to count. Representing close to 300 individual items!

Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter makes the case that fashion, and costumes are significant and enduring expressions of personal identity and of political and social change. This exhibition confirms Vancouver as home to world-class costume interpreters, collectors and historians.

For more information follow the MOV on Facebook and Instagram.

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