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Fashion Resources: Museums & Visual Resources

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This museum seeks to document "America's story through the art, history and science of our textiles." Information on exhibits and collections are provided with sample images from the collection.

The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material culture "committed to studying the cultural history of the material world." Visitors can view images for the Center's changing exhibits galleries. Many of these exhibits focus on clothing and textile history.

The Bata Shoe Museum contains over 10,000 shoes documenting 4,500 years. Look for the online exhibits, podcasts and educational lesson plans for additional information on special topics.

Take a virtual tour of the Costume and Textiles collection or search the Museum Collection Database for images of costumes and textiles from the collection.

The Cooper-Hewitt Museum is the "is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design." Visitors can view select items in the museum's collection and may go to the Exhibition link to examine online components of current and past exhibitions.

A museum of 20th and 21st century design, architecture and fashion. Search Design at the Design Museum for an alphabetical archive of design history. This archive includes articles with brief bibliographies for many designers. Look at the Digital Design Museum for "a series of virtual galleries" highlighting specific aspects of the collection.

The Duke University Libraries' Ad*Access Project "presents images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Ad*Access concentrates on five main subject areas: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II." Some of these advertisements may be of interest to fashion and design students for their historic images. The advertisements on this web site have been made available for use in research, teaching, and private study.

Founded by British designer Zandra Rhodes, The Fashion and Textile Museum is a "centre for contemporary fashion, textiles and jewellery in London." While few exhibits have an online component, visitors can view podcasts and videos of a number of exhibit-related and design events.

The Parson's New School for Design libraries have digitized over 1,500 fashion design sketches from the archival collections of Claire McCardell, Norman Norell and Mildred Orrick with the intent of documenting the history of 20th century American Fashion. "The images that comprise the Fashion Design History Database reflect the metamorphosis of women's fashion from the 1920s through the 1970s. Exploring themes of functionality and form, the designers whose work is represented in the database demonstrate the ways in which fashion has evolved along with women's changing roles."

California's Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum and Galleries houses "over 10,000 costumes, accessories and textiles from the 18th century to the present day, including film and theatre costume." Select Online Exhibits to see many past and present exhibits including previous examples from the museum's annual 'The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design' exhibit.

The Commons on Flickr was launched as a collaboration with the Library of Congress and now includes digital contributions from a number of museums and historical agencies with the aims of showing "hidden treasures in the world's public photography archives," Currently users can only search through the simple search field, or browse by institution or tag. Several institutions have photographic 'sets' such as "cowgirls," "bathing beauties" and "hats" which feature fashion-related images. The images in the Commons have no copyright restrictions, however, the user should read the Rights Restrictions for each institution for more detailed information.

The Gladys Marcus Library supports the research needs of the undergraduates, graduates and faculty of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). "The Library provides a well-selected collection of more than 300,000 volumes of print, non-print, and electronic materials to support the instructional programs in art and design, business and technology, and the liberal arts, with an emphasis on fashion and design resources."

Costumes and Textiles is a Digital Interactive Gallery (DIG) presented by the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington. These galleries are "experimental, web-based introductions to specific mediums, subjects, and issues in art and design, all illustrated with images of objects in the Henry's collection." The Costumes and Textiles series provides several ways to explore this area of museum collecting. For example, explore how garments reflect identity, fashion or specific occasions in the wearers' lives. In the textile section, view examples by structure or by type of embellishment. Finally, explore the global connections of Henry Art Gallery objects using Google Earth.

The KSU Museum houses a significant collection of costume and decorative arts dating from the 18th century to the present. Visitors may view costume collections and online exhibitions. This site also includes a costume dictionary and a guide to clothing care.

The KCI holds a collection of clothing from the 18th through the 20th century with an emphasis on Western women's clothing. Follow the Digital Archive to the KCI Database to view approximately 200 objects in the collection through an interactive clothing silhouette timeline. Go to the exhibit links to find additional online components to a few exhibits. Available in Japanese and English.

The LIFE photo archive contains millions of photographs from the mid-19th century through the present. Images are licensed for "personal non-commercial use only". Persons interested in fashion may type in a keyword, a designer's name, or may choose to browse by decade to get a sense of clothing styles.

View current and past exhibits and images from the museums collection some of which include design and fashion components.

Australia's Powerhouse Museum is a technology and design museum that provides a wealth of information related to textiles and fashion. For images and information on specific objects search the museum's collection by category, theme or collection. Do a keyword search for "Electronic Swatchbook" to find a database of almost 2000 high quality digital images of historic fabric swatches dating from the 1830s to the 1920s. Lastly, the Museum houses the Lace Study Centre, an in-depth collection of historic and contemporary lace. Visitors may download a number of educational lace-related documents including a glossary, classification guide and case studies.

The Virtual Shoe Museum is supported by a private company. Visitors may view images of approximately 500 shoes accessible by time period, designers, brands, countries and ethnicity. Many images feature a Show "3-D" option that allows visitors to view objects from a rotating 360 degrees. The site also provides brief biographies of shoe designers with links to examples of the designer's work in the collection. The site includes a glossary of shoe terminology. Available in English and Russian.

The TMC collects and documents textiles from around the world. Visitors may view online exhibits and examples of objects from current and past exhibitions. The site's interactive map allows visitors to click on a region to bring up a textile sample with a brief overview of the textile cultures within the region. A wallpaper option assists visitors in downloading an image of one of the museum's textiles.

Examine Collection Highlights to view 50 items from the Institute's permanent collection. Follow the Features and Exhibition link to find descriptions and sample images from past exhibitions, and look at special topics relating to costumes for a series of essays on more than 20 topics including designers and specific aspects of costume history.

The Museum at FIT supports the educational programs of the Fashion Institute of Technology and "celebrates fashion and textiles as. . .expressions of creativity, knowledge, and identity." Follow the Exhibits link to find information on future, past and current exhibits, some of which are also available as online exhibits. Explore the Online Collections link, which features photographs and information about a number of objects in the museum. Online collections can be searched by keyword or by browsing a topical gallery.

The Museum of Costume, Bath collection focuses on fashionable dress in Britain from the late 16th century to the present. This site features a brief timeline of costume using photographs and descriptions of costumes in the collection.

The Textile Museum collects and documents textiles from around the world. Currently its online exhibit, Common Threads, uses interactive components to examine some of the social, cultural and technological aspects of world textiles. Individual collection pieces are highlighted in the Textile of the Month archives.

The University of Wisconsin's digital collection includes digitized collections on a number of textile and clothing related topics including the Helen Louise Allen Textile collection and the Human Ecology collection which includes millinery, dressmaking, clothing and costume images from the first half of the 20th century. Visitors may browse the collection by publication title or do full text searches.

The V&A Museum has a collection of over 63,000 clothing and textiles objects. Links include Past Exhibits, Videos and Object Stories. The Day of Record archive is a sociological record of several current fashions including tattoos, hair and nails and the Goth style. Changing features highlight different exhibits and aspects of the collection.

VADS is an online resource for the students and educators in the visual arts. It consists of a "visual art collections comprising over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK." The site includes online fashion and textiles collections from a number of art and design colleges and universities in the UK.