Parasols, Purses, and Petticoats: Costume Accessories from the Permanent Collection

February 10 – June 2, 2013

Galleria Cases

  • Parasols Installation 1
    Parasols, Purses, and Petticoats: Costume Accessories from the Permanent Collection installation, in the Galleria Cases, through June 2, 2013.

  • Parasols Installation 2
    Parasols, Purses, and Petticoats: Costume Accessories from the Permanent Collection installation, in the Galleria Cases, through June 2, 2013.

  • Parasols Installation 3
    Parasols, Purses, and Petticoats: Costume Accessories from the Permanent Collection installation, in the Galleria Cases, through June 2, 2013.

  • Brooch and earrings, ca. 1820-1900
    seed pearls
    Gift of Georgia Wilkins 1953.2
    Small seed pearls strung in beautiful decorative arrangements were less expensive than large, round pearls.

  • Purse, 1920s
    beads, metal, silk
    Gift of a Friend of the Museum 2010.51
    Bags can reflect trends in decorative arts, like this hand-tooled leather and metal bag in the Arts and Crafts style.

  • Two-way fan, ca. 1840s-1850s
    celluloid, paper
    Gift of a Friend of the Museum 2010.103
    From the 16th to 19th centuries, fashionable dress included fans. The covering of the fan was usually elaborately decorated.

Accessories beautify an outfit, but they can also serve other functions. Some are items of utility: capes add warmth and purses hold necessities. Adornments indicate one’s position in society: at times only the wealthy could afford fine jewelry and the latest styles. Some items attract the opposite sex: fans can assist in flirtation. Moreover, objects become family heirlooms that are used by successive generations. Intimate and personal, accessories reveal personal tastes and social standing.

This exhibition draws from the Museum’s extensive costume collection and is the first-ever installation devoted to accessories. Items will include fans, parasols, purses, jewelry, bonnets, capes, shoes, shawls, and foundation garments. There will be examples to try on, and visitors can pick up a guide to pieces in the permanent collection galleries that portray accessories in use.

This exhibit is made possible by the generous funding from Susan T. Edge, Couture Collection.

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