The Care and Display of Historic Clothing

The Care and Display of Historic Clothing

Karen M. DePauw


  • Description
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Wearable textiles hold their own stories of trade, manufacture and regionalism, just to name a few; they also tell a personal tale of the individuals who created our history. When we look at a piece of clothing, a coat, a dress, an undergarment, we see an item that is more personal, more closely related to the human body than nearly anything else it comes in contact with throughout the day. Garments can do far more for exhibitions and interpretation than merely providing a bit of color and beauty. Clothing is both artistic and utilitarian and is capable of adding so much to the story of who we are and where we came from.
The Care and Display of Historic Clothing aims to assist with the full integration of costume collections into the interpretation of the past. Often relied on for their ability to add beauty and color to exhibitions, these collection items provide a very personal side to any story at a given moment in history. The topics explored in this publication range from the care and identification of items in a costume collection to discussions about both physical display and how they can be used to engage audiences.
The book's focus is on costume collections and discussion topics will include information in regards to

  • costume collection storage,
  • display techniques,
  • basic identification, and
  • ideas on how to incorporate costumes into exhibitions and programming.
A list of further resources at the back of the book helps provide supplemental, in-depth information on individual areas. The layout of this work will aim to provide information that slowly leads from understanding your costume collection and obtaining physical control to incorporating it in a significant and informative way into the work of the organization. Providing all of these resources in one place will make the incorporation of costumes a more obtainable goal for small to mid-sized museums and historical societies.


Karen M. DePauw:
Karen DePauw currently works as coordinator of Local History Services at the Indiana Historical Society. After receiving a bachelor of arts in history at Quincy University and a master of science from the University of Rhode Island focusing on historic costumes and textiles, Karen worked with various costume collections in the state of Connecticut before moving to Indiana to serve local organizations through collection care trainings and workshops. She is a member of the American Association for State and Local History Field Services Alliance and has been an active member of the Costume Society of America, previously serving as the Northeastern Regional President.