This exhibition was the culmination of the NEH-funded Historic Costume Preservation Workshop in the spring of 2010. During the 2011-12 academic year, student research assistant Julie Fields ’12 compiled photographs from the exhibition and turned them into a digital exhibition. Julie was one of the students who participated in the 2010 workshop, and then we were able to hire her to help build our digital collection, thanks to grant funding from the Mellon foundation for an inter-institutional workshop grant entitled “Digital Archives That Count.”
Right before Thanksgiving we found out that our NEH proposal for a Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions was accepted! This grant will allow us to bring three professionals from the field of costume history to lead workshops for Vassar staff and students. Selected students will be able to get credit for participating in this Historic Costume Preservation Workshop (HCPW), by registering for an independent study in Drama, History, or Victorian Studies.
For students who are interested in museum work, this project will provide wonderful hands-on experience with our museum quality objects. Early in the semester, participants will work with textile conservator Jonathan Scheer to learn best practices for proper handling of costume objects and assessment and documentation of their condition. Then costume historian Jessa Krick will lead a workshop in museum cataloging procedures. Throughout the semester, participants will use the skills they have learned to build documentation for the collection. Later in the semester, costume historian and conservator Colleen Callahan will lead a five day intensive workshop for stabilization and mounting techniques to conserve and safely display the objects. She has recently done similar workshops at Mt. Holyoke and Smith.
The work accomplished through these workshops will greatly benefit our digitization and exhibition plans, and will provide us with documentation that is necessary for future grant applications. At the end of the semester, while the objects are all mounted, we hope to photograph them and host a small exhibition to the public. The photographs and other information about the objects will eventually be available to the public online, as part of our digital collection.