History's Closet full of treasured items for public display

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 5:06 p.m. CST; updated 8:29 p.m. CST, Wednesday, March 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — Century-old wedding dresses, military uniforms and evening wear are a few examples of the clothing that will be showcased at History’s Closet, an fundraiser organized by the MU department of textile and apparel management.

The event will raise money to support the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection. It features selections from the collection dating to 1828 and organized by genre.

“The event is special because we’re bringing things out for the public to see that haven’t been seen before,” said Laurel Wilson, curator of the collection.

About 5,000 pieces constitute the Historic Costume and Textile Collection. History's Closet is a rare opportunity to see items from the collection because they are kept in storage most of the time. Although a few items from the collection are periodically shown around campus, in places such as a display case in Ellis Library, this is the only opportunity to see such an extensive selection, according to the collection officials.

“There have never been this many garments on display from the collection before," said Nicole Johnston-Blatz, the collection manager. "It gives people a chance to see the wide variety of garments we have.”

Two previous fundraisers showcased six items at most, but the event Saturday will feature 75 garments. The money raised will go toward the upkeep, preservation and storage of the collection. Wilson said the main goal is to raise $45,000 for compact restorage, a movable storage system.  

“Compact restorage would allow us to store approximately one-third more garments safely," Wilson said. "It’s a better storage system.” 

Consistent with the event's theme, History’s Closet will be held at The Club at Old Hawthorne, built in the late 1930s. It's a replica of Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage, located near Nashville, Tenn.

Clothing will be displayed throughout the two-story home, organized into 10 themes, such as “Happily Ever After” — a selection of more than a dozen wedding dresses dating to 1898.

“We are really pleased to be sharing these things with the public," Wilson said. "We have some real treasures that most of the time reside in the closet.”

If you go

What: History's Closet, fundraiser and cocktail reception

When: From 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Club at Old Hawthorne, 6221 E. Highway WW

Admission: $40 per person

For more information: Call Amy Sanders at 884-5958.


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