From the pages of classic literature comes the Charleston Museum’s latest textile exhibit, Fashion in Fiction, on exhibit October 19, 2013 to April 6, 2014. This exhibit explores the fundamental role clothing and style play in some of our most beloved works of fiction. From Jane Austen’s sprigged muslin dresses to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s swinging flappers and dapper gents, fashion often becomes integral to a story and even helps to fix it to a particular time in history. Using clothing and accessories from our historic textiles collection as well as books and illustrations from the Archives, the Charleston Museum offers a light-hearted look at popular 19th and early 20th century fashions and shows off styles brought to life by some of literature’s most memorable characters.
The Charleston Museum presents an original exhibition, Quintessential Quilts, from August 17, 2013 to March 30, 2014. This exhibit in the Historic Textiles Gallery presents the Museum’s finest examples of quilting from
the late 18th century through the 20th century. Included will be representative work from the major quilting categories - whitework, chintz appliqué, pieced, traditional appliqué, paper-template pieced (mosaic),
crazy and modern.
Photo Courtesy of Army Quartermaster Museum, Fort Lee, Virginia.
Continuing its commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Charleston Museum presents “Our Duty was Quite Arduous”: The Union Encampment on Little Folly Island, 1863- 1865. On exhibit from June 6, 2013 to March 10, 2014, this original exhibition presents Civil War artifacts recovered by Charleston Museum archaeologists from the beach of “Little Folly Island.” Accelerated erosion caused by Hurricane Hugo in September 1989 uncovered a wealth of materials from the Federal presence there during the Civil War. Most were remarkably preserved and now provide a rare glimpse into the daily lives of Union soldiers garrisoned on Folly Island.
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The hat has been an essential fashion accessory for centuries. With this fashion staple in mind, the Charleston Museum continues its five-part accessories exhibition with Fashion Accessories: Hats, on exhibit June 19, 2013 - January 19, 2014. Installed in the study drawer section of the Museum's historic textiles gallery, headwear to be included ranges from the accordion-folded calash of the 18th century and the stiff little pillbox of the 1960s to men's ever-popular top hat and Derby.
Capturing an autumnal color palette for the fall, the Charleston Museum presents Positively Paisley from September 11 to January 5, 2014. This special exhibit, in the foyer case of our Historic Textiles Gallery, will feature woven and embroidered shawls from the early to late 19th century that feature the boteh, later known as the paisley design, as well as garments and fashion accessories ranging from the Victorian tastes of the 19th century to the groovy styles of the 1960s and 70s.
The Charleston Museum presents an original exhibition, Indigo: Natural Blue Dye in the Lowcountry, in its Historic Textiles Gallery. Using examples of indigo-dyed textiles from the Museum’s rich collections, this focused mini-exhibit reinforces the important role of indigo in South Carolina history, the efforts of Lowcountry native Eliza Lucas Pinckney in its cultivation, and the unique dyeing procedures used to make things “blue.” Ranging from the 18th to 20th centuries, clothing and household goods on display, representing examples of vatted indigo dyeing, “china blue” printing and blue “penciling,” reveal indigo’s vast complexities and allure.
While we usually think of military uniforms, a uniform is really just a distinctive outfit that identifies a group and helps bind them together. This exhibit will focus on all types of uniforms, including diplomatic, school, volunteer, sports and military groups. Highlights will include an early 19th century jockey suit worn on Col. William Alston’s plantation, an early Charleston Fire Department uniform coat, a Red Cross uniform worn by Anna Heyward Taylor during World War I and a beaded belt worn during a local Turnverein athletic competition.
The Charleston Museum presents an original exhibition, Early 20th Century Quilts in the Museum's Historic Textile Gallery. The exhibit spans the tumultuous years from 1900 through the 1930s, displaying the patterns and fabrics that make this era's quilts so distinctive. Periods of turmoil in the early 20th century, sparked by World War I, the coming of the second World War and social change born out of the Suffrage Movement, the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression, were met with renewed vigor by quilters across the country. While mass production and mail order sales of blankets and bedcoverings in the late 19th century might have briefly made the handmade quilt less desirable, women in all walks of life continued to find satisfaction, artistic expression, delight and even comfort in designing and sewing quilts such as those in Early 20th Century Quilts.
Continuing its commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Charleston Museum presents Brethren, an original exhibition examining artifacts associated with militia units which served in and around Charleston during the Civil War. The exhibit draws from the Museum's weapons, archival and textiles collections, offering a variety of perspectives on local militias, and features a Palmetto Guard flag, c 1861, a German Artillery officer’s sword, photographs, and post-war militia uniforms and accoutrements.
Installed in the study drawer section of the Museum's historic textiles gallery, footwear ranging from early 19th century pattens and delicate satin slippers to formidable boots and high button shoes are shown.
The correct fashion accessory is as important as the garment itself. Some accessories are no longer in vogue – handkerchiefs, parasols, fans, walking sticks and even gloves. Others remain essential to that proper image – shoes, hats, purses and men’s neckwear. From the collections of the Charleston Museum, Fashion Accessories, a five-part exhibition, will look at these clothing additions that really did complete the image for fashionable men and women in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The series begins with Fashion Accessories: Shoes, on exhibit January 26 – June 9, 2013. Installed in the study drawer section of the Museum’s historic textiles gallery, footwear ranging from early 19th century pattens and delicate satin slippers to formidable boots and high button shoes will be shown.
The Charleston Museum presents an original exhibition, Hunt & Habit in the museum’s Historic Textiles Gallery. Hunt & Habit includes women’s and men’s riding habits, hats and accessories from the 19th and early 20th century. Setting the background for the garments is a beautiful early 19th century hunt board which could be carried to the porch for breakfast service, laden with Lowcountry favorites. Guns, typical of those used in local hunts, a side-saddle and period equestrian fashion plates round out the display
High fashion and style has been of paramount importance to Charlestonians from its earliest days. The emphasis on grand design, apparent in the architecture, gardens, art and clothing favored by the region, was facilitated by the port city’s easy access to fine goods, including textiles, fashion plates and magazines, imported from around the world. An original Charleston Museum exhibition, Charleston Couture, will showcase the area’s finest garments and accessories from the 1770s to the 1970s. Charleston Couture will include some true haute couture garments brought back by privileged Lowcountry residents from their wide travels. Of significance are pieces designed and made by Charles Frederick Worth and Mariano Fortuny, along with fashionable examples of lesser-known clothiers and Charleston dressmakers.
The Charleston Museum presents an original exhibition, Lowcountry Embroidery, from May 12 to January 13, 2013 in its Historic Textiles Gallery. The Charleston Museum's collection of Charleston-made schoolgirl samplers is unrivaled and these delightful embroidered treasures will be the main focus of this exhibit.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, almost every young girl learned to sew. The sampler was probably a girl's first achievement, proof of this important knowledge, and then most likely she would go on to show off her talents through decorative embroideries. Displayed in the study drawer section of the gallery, Lowcountry Embroidery will also include appliqué and needlepoint to showcase the finer needlework achieved by women and skilled girls.
As Autumn and Thanksgiving give way to thoughts of chilly temperatures and winter holidays, so do the garments in the Charleston Museum’s Seasonal Fashions exhibit. The Charleston Museum continues its year-long rotation in its Historic Textile Gallery with Seasonal Fashions: Winter in Charleston features a range of garments, fashion accessories, Christmas ornaments and stockings from the 19th century.
The Charleston Museum presents an original exhibition,Geometric Quilts, from May 5 to December 9, 2012 in its Historic Textiles Gallery. Pieced (or patchwork) quilts consist of geometric shapes sewn together to form a pattern. Popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, these quilts display a myriad of designs created from just a few distinct shapes. Geometric Quilts looks at how these simple shapes are transformed into intricate and delightful patterns.
As summer vacations give way to thoughts of heading back to school, football games and slightly cooler temperatures, so do the garments in the Charleston Museum’s Seasonal Fashions exhibit. The museum continues its year-long rotation in its Historic Textile Gallery with Seasonal Fashions: Autumn in Charleston. A range of garments, accessories and ephemera in this exhibit dating from the 1850s to the 1960s represents a seasonal shift to a more autumnal palette and theme.
Continuing its commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Charleston Museum presents Blasted: Assorted Projectiles and Explosives of the Civil War. This original exhibition explores the varied and sometimes revolutionary artillery shells and small arms projectiles that were used during this country’s defining conflict. Artifacts on exhibit include a rare Quinlivan shot designed to penetrate Federal ironclads and a two-chambered incendiary shell likely intended for use in Charleston’s defense.
In 2012, the Historic Textile Gallery will feature a rotating exhibit of Seasonal Fashions. Get ready for summer and a change to beach wear, perfect for a romp in the surf or a stroll down the boardwalk. Some of our early bathing suits might surprise even the most ardent beachgoers.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
This special traveling exhibit tells the story of Robert Smalls's daring 1862 escape from slavery, his service to the Union forces during the Civil War, and his political career during Reconstruction.Consisting of narrative panels, photographs, artwork, ship models, artifacts and reproductions which underscore the historical significance of Robert Smalls, this exhibition is an important contribution to Civil War and African American history. Visitors will become more familiar with Smalls's heroic exploits and be inspired by his legacy of bravery, leadership and public service to all Americans. Exhibit highlights include furniture from the house where Smalls lived as a slave, scaled replicas of the CSS Planter and the USS Keokuk, the two ships that Robert Smalls piloted during the Civil War, a replica of the musket owned by Smalls, letters he wrote to dignitaries of his time, and photographs of his house in Beaufort, SC, his family and his descendants through the generations. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Once the most important resource for current styles, fashion plates are now a valuable source for historic research. These plates appeared in many publications, such as Godey's Lady's Book, La Belle Assemblée, Les Modes Parisiennes and Ackermann's Repository of Arts among others. Essentially, fashion plates did not exist before the French Revolution began in 1789, though the Museum does have several rare hand-tinted fashion illustrations dating to the 1760s. It has been suggested that the sudden influx of French influence - as aristocrats rushed to escape the Revolution - catapulted the art of fashion designing and especially the production of fashion plates into a thriving business. For many years, these images would be the arbiters of elegance. Dress makers or even amateur home-sewers would use the illustration as their guide; dress patterns were not widely available until the latter half of the 19th century.
Charleston has a long and venerable quilt making history. One of the most stunning techniques,broderie perse or chintz appliqué, consisted of fabulous floral and botanical printed fabrics imported from India, England and Europe. The quilt was made by cutting up these luxurious textiles and then reapplying the motifs to a larger fabric, carefully stitching around each element. Quiltmakers could create a stunning tree of life, a graceful floral basket or an album quilt of many different designs. Botanical Quilts examines the many different botanically-inspired quilts that graced the beds of Lowcountry residents throughout the 19th century.
In 2012, the Historic Textile Gallery will feature a rotating exhibit of Seasonal Fashions. Shake off the winter blues in late February with an early spring Garden Party featuring elegant white dresses from the early 1900s, batiks by Anna Heyward Taylor and other floral textile delights.
Just in time for cooler weather, Coat Check will display of historic outerwear – coats, capes, cloaks, shawls, jackets – worn in Charleston in the past 200 years. From fur coats to delicate embroidered shawls, these garments were the finishing touch on a fashionable outfit. Even in the moderate Lowcountry climate, the winter months required a warm cover-up and fall or spring evenings might have needed a lighter wrap. Coat Check explores men’s, women’s and children’s outerwear with an eye to fashion as well as practicality.
This December 7th marks the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the official entrance of the United States into World War II. In commemoration of that fateful day, The Charleston Museum presents uniforms and textiles relevant to the Pacific War. We strive to honor the men and women who served throughout the war, on far-off shores and on the homefront, by telling the stories of these Americans through their personal objects.
Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and celebrating the opening of its new textile gallery, The Charleston Museum presents Threads of War: Clothing and Textiles of the Civil War. This original exhibition offers a peek into the lives of those left on the home front and those battling deprivation and fear while raising their families and protecting their property, as well as those fighting on the front lines. Threads of War will illustrate how, as the 1860s marched on, the war took its toll not only in lives lost but on fashion, supplies, and every aspect of life. Women's, men's and children's clothing, uniforms and accessories, quilts, coverlets and flags, along with magazines, newspapers, daguerreotypes and diaries provide tangible images of mid-nineteenth century Charleston and a lifestyle torn apart by war. LEARN MORE...
Continuing its commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Charleston Museum presents Plotting a Siege: Maps of Charleston in the Civil War. This small, original exhibition will display various examples of the maps held in the Charleston Museum’s Archives that relate to the Civil War. Historical maps, a valuable and fascinating resource, offer us a chance to see our world the way it used to be and this is especially true for the Civil War era. While maps are inarguably an important means of studying this conflict, they are also valued for their beauty. Many of the early pieces were hand-colored and contain unique content making them collectible works of art. Maps produced in wartime are especially distinctive as troop positions and battle information would be hand-drawn onto an existing map to create a truly precious item.
The Charleston Museum presents Aisle Style: 150 Years of Wedding Fashion, an original exhibition on display from October 16, 2009 through June 30, 2010. While focusing on the bride and her dress, the exhibition will include accessories, men's garments, trousseau treasures, and photographs. Aisle Style will also explore wedding traditions, from orange blossoms and blue garters to the magnificent white gown. The Museum will offer a wide variety of workshops and programs in conjunction with the exhibit.