Friday, July 11, 2014

Underwear sneak peek!

We are making excellent progress on Mentioning the Unmentionables, our exhibition about women's underwear that opens in the Keller Gallery on Friday September 5!

This girdle and strapless/low back bra are from the 1950s.  The garters are hidden up underneath the legs of the girdle, so we're planning to hike one leg up to show the hooks.
Yesterday we finished dressing the last of the dress forms with underwear and nightgowns from our collection and the many pieces that have been donated and loaned from the community.  Volunteer Kathy Fleeher has been a huge help working with Fosshape, an amazing fabric that stiffens with heat that we are using to display some corsets inside cases.  It is our first time experimenting with this material and we are amazed at what it can do!

We are waiting for some additional items to arrive from a private collector we have been working with in the Washington, DC area.  She has some interesting artifacts that fill some holes in what we would like to show in the exhibit, including a cage bustle from the 1880s and along line corset from the 1910s.

The main section of the exhibit will be a fashion timeline.  We are planning to show one dress in the typical style from the 1810s to the 1970s (excluding the 1820s, 1840s, and 1850s due to gallery space restrictions and availability of these decades).  Alongside it we will show the undergarments women wore to achieve the ideal look. Last month Kathy and I picked a dress from each decade from our collection and dressed the mannequins for that.  They are patiently awaiting their turn in the spotlight up in storage!

There will also be special sections exploring hosiery, boudoir caps, bed jackets, and nightgowns/lingerie. 

Right now I am working on writing the exhibition panels for each decade/era, and the object labels.  Through our Capital & Replacement campaign last fall, I was able to order several more dress forms to display even more undergarments.  Yesterday I placed an order for addition legs, torsos, and upper body forms to display other pieces in cases.

It's all coming together quite nicely!

Here are a few more photos of what it looks like behind-the-scenes when you're working on an underwear exhibit:

Visible in the front of this photo are a blue nightgown from the 1970s, a long chemise and corset from the 1890s, and a pink chemise from the 1910s which will be displayed underneath the long line corset we are borrowing from a private collector.  On the far right you can see the side of a white nightgown from 1895.

The hoop is from the 1860s and the floral dress behind it is from the 1960s. What a difference a century makes!

Visible in this photo is a peach nightgown from the 1930s, a pale yellow chemise and drawers set from the 1920s, and two "all-in-one" girdles from the 1950s/60s -- one white and one black -- that include garters for hosiery on the bottom.
 Again, special thanks to our sponsor!

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