The Fashion Archives and Museum of Shippensburg University recently hosted an open exhibit of its newest collection.
Members of the Fashion Archives welcomed SU students and members of the public on March 20 from noon to 4 p.m. for an open exhibit of the latest collection.
The collection, “The Fashions of Fiction: from Pamela to Gatsby,” explores the role of clothing and character in classic literature, according to Director Karin J. Bohleke.
The pieces of literature in which the exhibit is centered on are Pamela, The Great Gatsby, Ourika, The Age of Innocence, Jane Eyre, Cranford and Madame Bovary.
The exhibit includes donated pieces from the 18th through 20th centuries.
More than 50 featured garments and accessories are on display from personal owners, the Chester County Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution Museum and the Maryland Historical Society.
A major portion of the items comes from SU’s own collection.
Every item originated from the era of each respective work of literature. No item has been made to look as if it is from the era.
“It is truly amazing what wonderful condition these pieces are in,” Bohleke said.
When entering the exhibit, visitors are met with a large room filled with mannequins, wearing hand made, intricately sewn dresses and suits. Each portion of the room is divided by book and era, with signs detailing the owner and story behind each piece.
Bohleke admired the condition of most of the pieces, and the kindness of those who donated the pieces.
“When you consider that the pieces are all hand made, the time and investment of the work that was put into making them,” she said while viewing a teal lace dress from the Pamela section.
The exhibit was partially made possible by a $40,000 grant to the Fashion Archives awarded by the Coby Foundation, as well as smaller donations from private donors.
For this exhibition, students in the university’s Applied History Program, interns, graduate assistants and volunteers helped to install the relics.
“It is a great opportunity for the students to work with these pieces,” Bohleke said.
She said the next exhibit will include items worn for social dancing in America.
“I try to develop exhibits that connect with curriculum,” she said.
The current exhibit runs through April 11. The Fashion Archives and Museum of Shippensburg University is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission for students with an SU ID is free.
For more information, visit fashionarchives.org or call (717) 477-1239.