After long planning, preparation, and hard work, the Fashion Archives & Museum (FA&M) has begun the transition to its renovated facility in Davis House at Shippensburg University. The new addition features an expanded collections storage area and an airy exhibit gallery, and the existing floor plan allowed for the creation of a separate library to house the fashion reference collection. There is a meeting/reception area in addition to separate work and office spaces. The new facility is also fully handicapped- accessible.
The FA&M was founded in 1980 by the late sociology professor Dr. Elizabeth Thompson. What began as a rack of vintage clothing in her office that she used to support her classroom lectures became both a significant and well-known collection that has enhanced university and community life for many years through exhibits, student and volunteer opportunities, and publications. The move to the Davis House has made her long-standing dream of an independent facility a reality. "Many people's efforts came together to make this move possible," explains the current FA&M director Dr. Karin J. Bohleke. "Partnership and collaboration between Shippensburg University officials and the SU Foundation were essential. Without their combined advocacy and carefully planning, this project could not have come to fruition. Of course, we also have to thank many donors who have supported the FA&M since its inception. Without their past and present generosity, we would have not have been able to get to this point." Bohleke also notes that the substantial grant of $50,000 from the Wartime Foundation helped defray the costs, and all associated with the project express their gratitude for this important gift.
At press time, the moving and reorganization process has just begun and is expected to take several weeks. Plans are already underway for the first exhibit, which will feature exceptional items from the FA&M's collection of bridal attire. The opening and closing dates will be announced in the near future. "Due to preparation for this move, the FA&M has not had an in-house exhibit program since 2010," says Bohleke, "but old and new friends have been excitedly looking forward to viewing the collection's holdings on display again, and I hope to se many of you when we have settled in our new home. The university is truly fortunate to have such a magnificent clothing collection, and the students, volunteers, and I are all anticipating to being able to share it with the public again." To receive regular news and photos and to follow the progress of the move, Bohleke recommends that those interested follow her updates on the FA&M Facebook page.
Over the weekend the "Eras of Elegance" exhibit at the Sigal Museum in Easton, PA opened. This is the first costume exhibit and exhibit catalog that the museum has done, crossing off two milestones with the opening.
The exhibit consisted of 35 carefully restored vintage gowns that cover 150 years of historical and economic trends between the 1750s and the 1920s. Dr. Karin J. Bohleke helped with the exhibit by conducting a textile survey of the collection, a collection that took 15 years to accumulate. Along with the 35 gowns there were shoes, hats, fans and more accessories paired with the outfits to help exemplify the style of the era. Dr. Karin J. Bohleke, who wrote the preface to the exhibit catalog and served as the guest curator for the event, gave a small talk called "Behind the Scenes of Eras of Elegance." She spoke on the difficulties of moving the gowns from storage and the extensive restoration process that was needed for the gowns to be brought back to life.
The public event will be opened until the Summer of 2015, with tickets being $7 for adults and $5 for children. The hours for the exhibit are Wednesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m.-4 p.m. You can also pick up catalogues, beaded bags and other items related to the exhibit's theme.
For more information on the exhibit you can visit Sigal Museum's page for the event.
Dawn W. Taylor, age 88, of McConnellsburg, PA, died Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at Chambersburg Hospital. Born in Altoona, PA, she was the daughter of the late Calvin J. and Marguerite McGough Whitehead. Her beloved husband of 67 years, Robert M. "Bob" Taylor, preceded her in death on March 10, 2013. Dawn was a 1944 graduate of Upper Darby High School. She then attended the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
She was a homemaker, living in many Pennsylvania towns before moving to New Jersey. She later moved to Blairs Mills, PA where she and her husband restored their home which was built in 1896. She was always very active in community organizations including the Blairs Mills Lioness Club, the Conococheague Audubon Society, the Fulton County Medical Center Auxiliary, and the Craft Guild in Waynesboro. Dawn served as Interim Director of the Fashion Archives at Shippensburg University for one year and was on its board of directors for many years. She was one of its earliest volunteers when Dr. Elizabeth Thompson founded the FA&M in 1980, frequently commuting from Blairs Mills to Shippensburg to help.
She and her husband enjoyed traveling and lived in Thailand during his career as a consultant. She loved to read, enjoyed needlepoint, and was an accomplished artist. She was stubborn, compassionate, patient, humble, and very proud that by reaching her 88th birthday on Saturday she had lived longer than anyone on either side of her family. She had a sharp mind until her last moments.
Condolences and memories may be shared on her Book of Memories page at Geise Funeral Home.
The FA&M is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the Anne M. and Philip H. Glatfelter III Foundation in excess of $10,000 towards the purchase of bookcases for the reference library. The selected open-stack shelving will provide an additional 90 linear feet for the expanding reference holdings, and the secure, locked book cases will provide 70 linear feet of safe yet accessible storage for the FA&M's extensive collection of rare catalogs and nineteenth-century fashion magazines. For the first time in the FA&M's history, these paper ephemera holdings will be readily available for researchers to consult primary sources.
The floor plan of the FA&M's future facility in Davis House has a designated library room to allow researchers to pursue their work in tranquility. The library in the now-demolished Harley Hall was structurally part of the exhibit gallery and there was no separate reading or study area to encourage reading and note-taking.
The FA&M's founder, Dr. Elizabeth Thompson of the Sociology Department, understood the need for a library to coexist with the clothing collecting, and she carefully nurtured it along with the historical clothing. The reference library serves Shippesnburg University students, faculty and staff, as well as the greater community. For example, Dr. Tina Chen of the University of Taiwan used FA&M reference materials and historical clothing its,s in order to complete her book, Bridal Dress (2013), which examines Eastern and Western bridal clothing and cultural shifts in her native Taiwan, and she also donated a copy of her published work to the FA&M library. Dr. Jo Paoletti, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, also used FA&M paper ephemera holdings in support of her research for her forthcoming book, Sex and Unisex: Fashion, Feminism and the Sexual Revolution. Dr. Paoletti commented, "I really do think your collection deserves much more recognition as a major resource for dress scholars. You had everything I needed, and some surprises as well." As the scholarship and research aspects of the FA&M continue to become better known, it is director Dr. Karin J. Bohleke's hope that researchers from the university, other institutions, and the community will increase their usage of these important holdings.
FA&M and the Hanover Historical Society Sponsor Titanic Fashions Exhibit
January 5, 2012
The Shippensburg University Fashion Archives and Museum and the Hanover Area Historical Society are pleased to announce their first joint exhibit Titanic Fashions: High Style in the 1910s. The exhibit will be held in the historical society's Warehime-Myers mansion, which dates to 1911-1912. It is a fashion celebration of the mansion's centennial as well as a commemoration of the famous White Star liner disaster that still captures the romantic and historical imagination. Over 30 fully dressed mannequins will be on display in the different rooms to show the fashions for men, women and children. FA&M director, Dr. Karin J. Bohleke, pointed out that "To my knowledge, this is the first time the Fashion Archives has mounted an exhibit that matches the clothing with the architecture of an important local historic property. The Hanover Area Historical Society is very fortunate to have this mansion that retains all of its original interior trimmings and fixtures, and the staff and volunteers have generously opened its doors to FA&M and made this exciting collaborative venture possible."
Clinton N. Myers of the Hanover Shoe Company commissioned noted Philadelphia architect Herman Miller to design his new home. Shortly after the Myers family took up residence, they enclosed the back porches and added a solarium. The mansion then remained in the family without significant change until 1997. At that time, J. William Warehime, who had grown up across the street from this beautiful house, purchased the estate in order to preserve its architectural integrity and prevent damaging development. Although most of the Myers family furniture was sold at auction, Mr. Warehime was able to purchase of some of the original pieces and reinstall them in the home, to which he added his own personal collections. To ensure its preservation, he then bequeathed the mansion and its contents to the Hanover Area Historical Society in 2007. Visitors to the exhibit will simultaneously enjoy a guided tour and see beautiful items from FA&M's extensive collection that represent the years when the home was newly built, thereby merging architecture and fashion in a dynamic way. One of Mrs. Ethel Myers' evening dresses from the time period has survived, and it will also be on display.
Two of the gowns that will be going on display are illustrated here. The peach silk jacquard dress with asymmetrical drapery is ca. 1912 (S2010-17-011 Fox). It belonged to Margaret Harmon Graves (1892-1979) of New Haven, CT. She was an accomplished artist who, among other things, attended graduate school at Yale. The pale green silk crepe dress belonged to Marjorie Elliott Boher Hosfeld (1889-1979) of Shippensburg, PA. It is hand embroidered in matching green silk floss, and it dates to ca. 1910 (S2010-14-052). The gentlemen's parlor from the Warehime-Myers mansion as it now appears is also illustrated here.
The Warehime-Myers mansion will be open to the public on Sunday, March 11, 2012 from 1:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m. The exhibit will close on April 29, 2012. There is a general admissions fee of $8.00 per adult, $15.00 per family. The Warehime-Myers mansion is located at 305 Baltimore Street, Hanover, PA, 17331-3205, and can be contacted at (717) 637-6413 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Operating hours are: Wednesday 10:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., with special additional hours for the duration of the exhibit on Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The mansion is ADA compliant.
Fashion Archives Obtains Preservation Grant For Jean Cloth Tailcoat
July 18, 2011
The Fashion Archives and Museum of Shippensburg University is pleased to announced that it has received a $5,000 grant from the William R. and Esther Richmond Foundation in order to complete the conservation of a rare 1830s man's coat in critical need of stabilization. Through a team effort, this Kentucky jean coat will be stabilized with hand-woven reproduction jean cloth dyed and woven to match by Ms. Barbara Miller, patterned by Ms. Martha McCain, and stabilized and conserved for preservation and future exhibit by Dr. Karin J. Bohleke and professional costume conservator Ms. Colleen Callahan.
Early nineteenth-century men's clothing is extremely rare. Men generally had fewer garments than women and often wore their clothing until it was worn out, at which point the fabric was reused in other ways, becoming cleaning rags and similar consumable textiles. The man's 1830s tailcoat in question came from a family farm in the small town of Ovid Center, near Interlaken, NY. Thus, this coat is in an even rarer category—the surviving clothing of an ordinary farmer, in this case his casual and loosely tailored summer coat. When early men's clothing survives, it tends to fall into the category of "best" or formal attire, such as wedding suits, and typically belonged to a member of the middle or upper economic classes. Dress of the common man, such as this farmer's coat, falls into the rarest category of surviving men's clothing. It is made of sky blue jean cloth, also known as Kentucky jean, which is a utilitarian fabric with few extant examples. To provide a sense of the textile rarity involved in this project, it took Dr. Bohleke nearly a year to find Ms. Miller, who has the necessary expertise and experience to replicate eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century woven utilitarian fabrics, and it took Ms. Miller four months to locate suitable fibers.
While Ms. Miller is preparing swatches for color matching, warping her loom and beginning to weave, clothing historian and professional pattern drafter Martha McCain will document the coat by doing an in-depth study of its construction and features and drafting a pattern of it for future publication, a painstaking process that can take up to 200 hours. Upon completion of both the pattern and the weaving, Ms. Callahan and Dr. Bohleke will spend an intensive conservation session working on the coat together. The conservation procedures will stabilize the structural integrity of the coat, which is now compromised by many holes and areas of loss, which is not unusual in a garment of this age with this provenance.
The very first verb in FA&M's mission statement is "preserve," and this project will allow the institution the opportunity to preserve and subsequently display one of the rarest and most valuable items in its collection. More importantly, it will allow this object to survive through stabilization. FA&M is committed to instructing and sharing with museum professionals, volunteers and students appropriate models for the care and exhibition of historic clothing items. When the work begins this Fall semester, our friends can follow our progress through updates on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/fashionarchivesandmuseum.
Major Changes in FA&M's Exhibit Schedule and Plans
March 10, 2011
The director of the Fashion Archives and Museum, Dr. Karin J. Bohleke, in consultation with the College of Arts and Sciences, has made some important decisions that change current exhibit schedules and plans. First and foremost, the Scaasi exhibit planned for March, to be held in conjunction with a celebration of his work currently on display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, will now be a virtual exhibit available through FA&M's website in the not too distant future. The gallery space, with which so many of you are familiar, is now an inventory and photography processing center. Like many of our sister institutions, including the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, the Fashion Archives needs to devote a special period of time for collection inventory, documentation, photography, and storage reassessment. During this time, researchers are still welcome to request viewing of garments and objects in the collection. In support of Shippensburg University's educational mission, the staff will still mount onto mannequins mini-exhibits displaying garments that correspond to classroom topics.
Not only is the collection undergoing this significant and important survey, but we will also completely redesign the Fashion Archives website. The Scaasi virtual exhibit will be easily accessible, and the Nineteenth-Century Costume Treasures, 1800-1900 exhibit that so many of you enjoyed will also be available for viewing online. As the director and her staff work their way through the collection, they will post news, beautiful costume discoveries, and other items of interest to historical costume lovers on a weekly basis. Our volunteers and assistants will also post additional information on our Facebook page. Look for us at: http://www.facebook.com/fashionarchivesandmuseum.
"This is a critical time for the Fashion Archives and Museum," Dr. Bohleke explains. "It is an important step forward in gaining intellectual and physical control over the collection in which our museum software PastPerfect will play an essential role and ultimately lead to a complete redesign of our storage facility. We will continue to dedicate ourselves to fund-raising, which is now of critical importance because the inventory will give us a better idea of exactly what kinds and sizes of new proper museum storage cabinets we will need to buy. For the long-term care of the collection for future generations, we will need to purchase additional archival supplies as well. I know that supporters of the Fashion Archives give us their patience and lend us their support. They will be able to chart our progress on our website and enjoy our holdings in the virtual world. When the entire process is complete, we promise to create a beautiful gala exhibit to celebrate our reopening and other costume treasures we have discovered along the way."
Woman's peach silk evening dress with metallic bullion lace, ca. 1916-1917. There is also an ivory silk underskirt edged with bullion lace. (S2010-11-013 Lyndhurst)