For museums east of the Mississippi River (not including New York City):
While no permanent display of dress, the MFA Boston has shown its commitment to showcasing fashion with their exhibitions Think Pink (2013-4), Hippie Chic (2013), Figure/Fabric/Fantasy: …Collection of Fashion Drawing (2012), and Beauty as Duty: Textiles and the Home Front in WWII Britain (2011-2). Their collection of over 27,000 objects ranges from American needlepoint to European tapestries, Middle Eastern rugs, African kente cloths, and haute couture fashions.
Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
RISD’s recent exhibition Artist | Rebel | Dandy (2013) was one of the most comprehensive exhibitions on menswear ever presented, and looks to be a game-changer for this museum (which will hopefully involve re-doing their terrible website!). Starting in June 2014, “The new Angelo Donghia Costume and Textiles Gallery and Study Center provides dedicated spaces for showing selections from the Museum’s collection of costumes and textiles (26,000)—which date from 1500 BCE to today. An 18-foot-long gallery display case features themed installations, while a separate classroom environment provides a place for students—and the public, when classes are not in session—to closely study and discuss collection objects and worldwide textile innovations.”
The Kent State University Museum welcomes students and the general public to view, study and research from its collection of historic, contemporary, and world fashions. The collection goes beyond clothing and textiles to also include American glass, furniture, paintings and other decorative arts. The Museum also houses a library of books and historic periodicals dedicated to fashion and decorative arts.
With over 50,000 costumes and textile artifacts from the mid-18th century to the present, the Museum’s Costume Collection is the second largest in the world and one of the nation’s most complete repositories of fashion. The breadth of the collection reflects the rise of Chicago as well as the dressmakers, milliners, and manufacturers who made the city their home. Worn by former presidents and first ladies, sports stars, celebrities or everyday people, each piece is a reflection of our connection to Chicago. Many of the items are available in the digital collection here.
The Historic Clothing and Textile Collection in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors at The University of Georgia, Athens, is a study collection of over 1500 garments, accessories, and textiles that date from the 1800s to the 1990s. It includes women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, hats, shoes, and jewelry as well as quilts and coverlets from the 19th century. In addition to clothing and textile artifacts, the collection also contains pictorial items that represent historic dress of the mid-19th through 20th centuries, such as magazines, including Godey’s and Vogue, as well as authentic photographs.