All five current staff members from Museum Textile Services made the trip to Portland, Maine, last week for the 97 Annual Conference of the New England Museum Association. A mere 90 minutes north of our studio, the vibrant and historical city of Portland is a favorite summer destination with great restaurants, bustling street life, and many cultural institutions. The unseasonably warm November weather was an added bonus that made our excursions and dinner treks even more memorable.
The following day, Camille and Kate presented their talk Articulating Bodies: Developing and Disseminating New Tools for Historic Costume Display in Small Museums to a standing-room-only crowd. Also participating in the presentation was author and museum archivist Jennifer Emerson, who Camille met while working at the Denison Homestead in Mystic, CT. Jennifer began the meeting in street clothes and allowed her silhouette to be traced onto a board. Later, she returned dressed in a replica 1814 outfit and her silhouette was again traced.
As attendees learned about the importance of proper costume display in museums, they began to understand how drastically the human figure is manipulated over time. Jennifer's final appearance was in a replica 1876 ensemble complete with bustle and bonnet. The final tracing made clear that understanding the historical silhouette takes some research but results in much more authentic--and safer--costume display.