Michigan State University has received a $10,000 Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to rehouse portions of the MSU Museum’s apparel collection acquired from the Department of Art, Art History, and Design’s Apparel and Textile Design Program.
In 2017, the Michigan State University Museum acquired the teaching collection of the Apparel and Textile Design Program, which contained about 6,000 examples of men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel and accessories, as well as household textiles. This collection has enhanced the museum’s extensive collection of apparel and textiles.
The grant will be used to purchase storage furniture to house the men’s and children’s apparel portions of the collection in museum-quality cabinetry, using appropriate storage materials and methods. Along with this project, the materials will be cataloged, photographed, and numbered before being rehoused in the new cabinetry.
The Rehousing the Apparel and Textile Design Collection project is led by Lynne Swanson, Cultural Collections Manager, and Mary Worrall, Director of Collections of the MSU Museum.
“The goal of the project is to provide this protection to promote the preservation of the collection over time. Cabinetry protects the collection from pests, light, dust, and other harmful agents that might contribute to the wear of the collection.”Lynne Swanson, Cultural Collections Manager
“New cabinetry is necessary to provide safe and permanent housing,” Swanson said. “The goal of the project is to provide this protection to promote the preservation of the collection over time. Cabinetry protects the collection from pests, light, dust, and other harmful agents that might contribute to the wear of the collection.”
Established by donations from alumni and contacts in the industry, the Apparel and Textile Design collection, which dates back to the 1920s, had a long history in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, and was used extensively by faculty as a teaching and research tool in courses on the history and design of apparel and textiles.
This teaching collection includes numerous types and eras of clothing previously not found in the MSU Museum collection, especially strengthening mid-20th century holdings. When merged with the existing MSU Museum apparel collection, the resulting collection is much larger and more comprehensive. The combined collection dates from 1810 to the early 1990s and is representative of clothing worn by Michigan men, women, and children at home, school, work, and in leisure activities.
This overall collection deepens our understanding of design and daily life in Michigan. It is rich in clothing from regional sources, but also includes a small number of designer pieces. The collection is used by multiple departments and programs at MSU in teaching and research including the Apparel and Textile Design Program; Department of Theater; Department of History; Residential College in the Arts and Humanities; and Department of Art, Art History, and Design. Pieces from the collection also are used in exhibitions and are loaned to other institutions for exhibitions or study.
“Rehousing the collection helps to preserve it for use in teaching and learning,” Swanson said. “The MSU Museum’s collections support the university’s mission by providing a foundation for research, scholarship, and learning; they empower researchers seeking to answer questions and create solutions; they facilitate outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional education; and they advance outreach and engagement activities that are innovative and lead to a better understanding of our world.”
About MSU Museum
As the state’s first Smithsonian Affiliate, the MSU Museum is an innovative and experimental collaboratory that exists to catalyze creativity. Here, people can openly explore, express, and experiment with ideas across disciplines and interests, and indulge their natural curiosity about the world. The Museum features three floors of special collections and changing exhibitions. The Museum is located on 409 West Circle Drive next to Beaumont Tower on the MSU campus. Visitor parking is available at metered spaces at the Grand River Ramp, one block away at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Charles Street. For more information, call (517) 355-2370 or see museum.msu.edu.