After a very hectic (and snowed-in) start, the spring semester is off and running. We have a wonderful team of faculty, staff, students, and alumnae hard at work preparing for our next exhibition.

This year it is Vassar’s 150th Anniversary, or Sesquicentennial. Our exhibition will celebrate 150 years of Vassar students – and what they wore. We are taking as the starting point for our research a quote from Lucy Maynard Salmon, founding professor of the history department at Vassar,

A collection of the clothing worn by students at different periods would at least raise, if it did not answer, the question of how far dress has been influenced by education.

Salmon, Lucy Maynard. “A Museum of Vassar College.” Vassar Miscellany (November 1911): 45.

How far has dress been influenced by education? Or more simply, has dress been influenced by education? How is this particular to women’s education? What other factors have influenced changes in what we wear, and how do they relate to education? To pose some answers to these questions, we are spending a great deal of time not only with the objects, but also in the Vassar Library’s Special Collections, immersing ourselves in resources related to the women who wore these articles of clothing.

In the coming months, we will use this blog as a place to share our research as it evolves, and to bounce around some theories – and some practical plans for the exhibition. As always, your comments will be very appreciated – they will help us to shape this coming exhibition.

Mark your calendars – the exhibition will be in Vassar’s Palmer Gallery (in the College Center) from mid-May (opening date TBA) through June 12 (the last day of Reunion). We hope to see you there! We will announce specific events (opening reception, guided tours) as they are scheduled.

Did you know that 2011 will be the 150th anniversary of Vassar’s founding? Sounds to us like a perfect opportunity to host an exhibition and let our costumes help tell the story of Vassar’s history, and the history of women’s education.
The work from the NEH grant in 2010 will help us greatly to prepare for such an exhibition. Since our resources are very limited, any exhibition will depend greatly on the work of students and the support of the Vassar community.
Stay tuned for more news about upcoming exhibitions!

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