Join curator Elizabeth Lay, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles, and American furniture, for an image-rich lunchtime lecture series focusing on decorative arts and design topics.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for purchase.
February 13 Past, Present, Future: The Glorious Collection of the Fashion Museum Bath
England’s Fashion Museum Bath holds one of the world’s great collections of historical and contemporary fashionable dress. Founded in 1963 as the Museum of Costume, Bath, a visit has been a highlight and a delight of a trip to the Georgian city for many thousands of people from across the world.
Whether it was the painted-backdrop vitrines in the Panorama Room gallery to must-see exhibitions of recent years, the museum has been at the forefront of the display of historical dress for more than 50 years. The collection numbers some 100,000 objects and includes dress for women, men, and children, glittering treasures from the 17th century up to cutting-edge fashion by today’s designers and makers.
In a special transatlantic conversation, Rosemary Harden, senior curator and Fashion Museum manager, surveys the past, present, and future of the museum, recounting stories and sharing insights about the displays, exhibitions, and objects in the museum’s collection.
Februay 27 Sleeping Around Virginia
Most people today think of their bedrooms as private spaces not generally shared with visitors—while in past centuries, the opposite is true. Bedchambers were sick rooms, birthing rooms, bathrooms, and a place to conduct business, or entertain close friends and children, away from the more formal entertaining in dining rooms and parlors.
Much more than just purely decoration, even the more basic textiles made the difference between comfort, and “just getting by.” Beds conveyed wealth and status, and for many, were the most expensive object in the home. Textile historian Natalie F. Larson uses primary sources to look at the variety of sleeping arrangements from slave dwellings and Indigenous populations to the homes of middle-class and upwardly aspiring Virginians.
March 13 Textile Diplomacy
At its core, textile conservation as cultural diplomacy is about cultivating and honoring people and heritage, acknowledging how our global cultural heritage strengthens identities, security, and respect for others. For more than two decades, textile conservationist Julia M. Brennan has built cultural bridges by engaging in both high-profile and grassroots projects to help set up conservation labs, train local specialists, and preserve local and regional textile heritage—both its artifacts and traditions. In the course of those projects, she worked with collaborators including ministries of culture, royal courts, monks, genocide survivors, and young students.
In her wide-ranging presentation, Brennan covers the treatment and mannequin-building for a display of court garb worn by 18th- and 19th-century American diplomats to France; the preparation and installation of the U.S. Embassy exhibition Great and Good Friends at the Royal Palace in Bangkok; the training of Indonesian colleagues in methods to clean and restore a collection of batiks housed at the American Embassy in Jakarta (“batik diplomacy” at its core); and building a multi-year project to conserve and display W.E.B. DuBois’s academic robes and prized textiles for Ghana’s Centre for Pan African Culture in Accra.