Fashion Timeline: 200 Years of Costume History (Ongoing)
The “Fashion Timeline” showcases the Kent State University Museum’s world-class collection of historic fashions. Encompassing two centuries of fashion history, this exhibition is designed to show the evolution of styles and silhouettes while contextualizing the pieces with relevant political, technological, and cultural developments.
The first gallery spans the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. This was a period of revolutionary change that can clearly be seen reflected in the fashions. The American and French Revolutions radically changed the political landscapes while the industrial revolution transformed how goods, particularly clothing and textiles, were made. The luxury and rococo excesses of the eighteenth century gave way to the romanticism and neoclassicism of the early nineteenth century. The next room includes the second half of the nineteenth century to the dawn of World War I. Synthetic dyes opened up a world of color and the sewing machine facilitated the application of yards of ruffles, pleats, and fringe. The upholstered, heavy styles of the Victorian era eventually gave way to Edwardian froth and lace. The final room finishes the timeline with fashions of the early 20th century. While it may have been a period of world wars and depression, fashions also reflected the heydays of jazz and swing, the boldness of Art Deco, and the endless possibilities of technology from plastics to rockets. In addition to the garments on view in the Palmer and Mull Galleries, an array of accessories lines the hallways. The display is intended to be a permanent feature at the museum, but the individual pieces will be rotated frequently so there is always something new to see.
THE KENT STATE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM
offers visitors a look at the history of costume and decorative arts through its changing exhibitions in its seven galleries of work by many of the world’s great artists and designers. Closely linked to the Fashion School at Kent State University, the Museum provides students with first-hand experience with historic and contemporary fashions, as well as costumes representing many of the world’s cultures. An extensive collection of American glass, fine furniture, textiles, paintings. and other decorative arts combine to give context to the study of design. The Museum serves both the University and the community through exhibitions, public programs, and research appointments in the collections.
Opened to the public in October 1985, the Kent State University Museum was founded with an initial contribution from New York dress manufacturers Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodgers. Their gift included 4,000 costumes and accessories, nearly 1,000 pieces of decorative art, and a 5,000-volume reference library. In the 1960s, Shannon Rodgers began collecting what is now considered one of the finest period costume collections in the United States, today totaling more than 40,000 pieces. The Tarter/ Miller collection of some 10,000 pieces of glass formed the second major gift to the Museum. Together with the other decorative arts collected by Rodgers and Silverman, the Museum holds one of the most comprehensive teaching collections of fashionable design from the 18th century to the present. There are currently five exhibitions on view to the public.
Glass: Selections from the Kent State University Museum Collection (Ongoing)
This exhibition of glass showcases the breadth of the Kent State University Museum collection that has resulted from many donors’ personal collecting interests. Thanks to generous donors, the museum has amassed a diverse collection of glass that spans the Roman Era to the 20th century. In addition to the representation of American manufactured glass from the Tarter/ Miller Collection, other important contributions include art glass from Jerry Silverman and Shannon Rodgers, Roman glass from Jack W. and Shirley J. Berger, and perfume bottles collected by Ruth and Ralph Fuller, as well as Barry W. Bradley. This exhibition gives you a glimpse into the complete glass collection housed within the museum’s storage.
The 1980s: An Age of Excess (through September 3, 2017)
This exhibition highlights the sparkle and glamour of the 20th century’s ninth decade. Designer gowns and elegant street wear from Europe and America—including, among others Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Ungaro, Chanel and Christian LaCroix, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Patrick Kelly, Donna Karan, and Pauline Trigere— are featured. Co-curated by Museum Director Jean Druesedow and Victoria Haworth, a senior fashion merchandising student at Kent State’s Fashion School.
Offering a Look at History Through Costume and Decorative Arts
Fashions of the Forties: From World War II to the New Look (through March 4, 2018)
The 1940s was a tumultuous period in history and the fashions of the time reflected the upheaval. World War II led to restrictions on what Americans and Europeans could wear because of rationing for civilian populations and uniforms for those who enlisted. The end of the war brought new freedoms. Christian Dior’s groundbreaking 1947 collection was known as the ‘New Look’ which came to refer more generally to the fuller skirts and hour glass silhouettes that predicted the styles of the 1950s. The 1940s represented the moment when American designers first began to break free of rigidly following European fashion. Among the innovative American designers and name brands in the exhibition are Adrian, Hattie Carnegie, Sophie Gimbel, Charles James, Claire McCardell, and Valentina. This exhibition showcases a variety of different looks that typified the whole span of the 1940s including uniforms, suits, underwear, outerwear, swimwear, and even glamorous evening dresses.
Fringe Elements (July 28, 2017—July 1, 2018)
From leather strips to silken tassels, fringe takes an array of different forms. Fringe is one of the most basic forms of ornamentation on textiles since it is a natural finish for weaving. When threads of the warp extend beyond the last weft threads, they create a fringe. While originally an integral part of the textile, most fringe is now applied separately to the garment. The beauty of fringe often derives from its motion. The loose threads swing and sway at the slightest movement. Although the pieces on exhibit are still, the drama and energy of fringe remains apparent. This exhibition assembles examples of fringe on costumes and textiles from around the world. While the uses of fringe are remarkably diverse, there are certain categories that emerge across national and cultural boundaries. Leather fringe can be found on Native American dress, Spanish equestrian wear and also suits from the 1960’s counterculture. Long silken fringe adorned dresses from the Jazz Age, shawls exported from China, and ornate costumes from the Victorian period. This exhibition highlights both the great diversity in fringe but also the surprising links between seemingly disparate cultures.
The Kent State University Museum is located at 515 Hilltop Drive, at the corner of East Main Street and South Lincoln Street in Kent, Ohio. The museum is open to the public on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 am—4:45 pm; Thursday from 10 am—8:45 pm; and Sunday from noon—4:45 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for children under 18. The museum is free with a Kent State ID and free to the public on Sunday. Parking is free. For more information, call 330-672-3450 or visit www.kent.edu/museum.
Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen (February 2, 2018—September 2, 2018)
In 2008, the Kent State University Museum was honored to receive Katharine Hepburn’s personal collection of film, stage, and television costumes, as well as clothes worn by her for publicity purposes. In response to the overwhelming demand for the exhibition’s return, Hepburn’s performance clothes will be displayed in a special encore exhibit including: stage costumes from The Philadelphia Story, Without Love and Coco; screen costumes from such classic films as Stage Door, Adam’s Rib and Long Day’s Journey Into Night; and some of her television movies, such as Love Among the Ruins. In addition, Hepburn’s “signature look,” an ensemble of tailored beige trousers and linen jackets, will be spotlighted, as will vintage posters, playbills, photos and other Hepburn related artifacts.