Monday, May 8, 2017

Fashioning the New England Family, Massachusetts Historical Society

MassFashion: Fashioning the New England Family
Massachusetts Historical Society
October 2018 – March 2019
I am delighted to announce that I am serving as the Guest Curator for ‘Fashioning the New England Family’ which will be on view at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. from October 2018-March 2019. ( Working with the MHS Curator, Anne Bentley, we are planning a exhibition which will place numerous garments and accessories on public view for the first time in MHS history. In addition to the exhibition there will be an accompanying catalog.

As America’s first historical society, the Massachusetts Historical Society has collected family archives since 1791. Textiles form an important part of these family stories but, due to their different storage requirements, have largely been divorced from their familial ties. Fashioning the New England Family will reknit the family stories with their textiles.  Exploring textiles and clothing, we read them as primary source material enabling us to trace patterns of consumption and trade, examine clothing as political and social statement, and to compare and contrast men’s political-economic sphere to women’s. A particular collecting strength is found in the items preserved from the 17th and 18th centuries, largely represented in the MHS collection by Boston’s elite families. Very few of these items have been publicly exhibited. While the importance of luxury goods continues in the 19th century, we see an increase in the availability of specialized garments and accessories through all strata of society and from a wider range of sources. During this period (and continuing beyond the Colonial Revival) the importance of “ancient” textiles frequently acquire icon status and serves to connect the next generation about the importance of family history. 
Four primary themes comprise Fashioning the New England Family:

I.               Petticoats and Politics  (Presidents Gallery)
II.             The Embellished Gentleman (Hamilton Room)
III.           Clothing “The Quality” 18th c. and 19th c. (Oliver Room)
IV.           Homespun & Handsewn (Alcove off of Oliver Room)
I am also pleased to author the catalog which will accompany the exhibition.

Stay tuned for more details and exhibition teasers.

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