W&M Theatre Costume Study Collection

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About

The WM Theatre Costume Study Collection is a collection of antique and vintage apparel that has either been donated or removed from active use from the WM Theatre costume collection. Because the Study Collection contains garments ranging from the 1840s through the early 2000s, it is an invaluable resource for costume history, costume construction, and collections management courses.

This conservation project was set in motion in 2018 thanks to the Costume Society of America’s Angels Project. With the help of forty professionals over several work days, we were able to begin the process of organizing, cleaning, documenting, and properly storing our collection. Since then, students under Costume Designer Patricia Wesp’s guidance have maintained the collection while learning about standards in collections management practices. 

The Study Collection has continued to grow from generous donations. We are seeking to upgrade our storage and materials in order to accommodate this growth and make the collection more accessible to the public. Specifically, we would like to purchase a full-bodied, flexible mannequin and appropriate shelving to expand our box storage. 

Since the items in our collection were made to be worn, it is crucial to understand how the garment would have looked and moved while draped over a body. Mannequins are a useful tool for a study collection because they allow us to examine and display historical garments in a way that minimizes potential damage to the garments. Currently, none of the mannequins in the WM Theatre Costume Shop are full-bodied or flexible. However, with the purchase of a flexible mannequin with legs, we will be able to examine pieces in a way that allows us to recreate the shape and frame that the garments were originally intended to be worn in. For example, we will be able to arrange the new mannequin to a position of riding aside so that an Edwardian riding habit can be viewed properly. The mannequin would be available for student research involving the study collection, and for costume construction and history classes. Furthermore, safe storage is essential to any collection; garments that are beaded, sleeveless, or particularly delicate require box storage. Our collection contains many pieces that are too fragile for hanging storage, and thus, we require more shelving to expand our box storage. With new shelving units we will be able to reorganize our storage room, maximizing box storage capabilities and making the space easier to access for students and visitors alike.

Fund Name: W&M Theatre Costume Study Collection
Purpose: To provide support for the William & Mary theatre costume study collection, including acquisitions, display, and storage items.
Fund Administrator: Chair, Theater, Speech & Dance
Agency: William & Mary

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Class LeaderboardThe Class Leaderboard reflects giving from Alumni, Students, Parents
AffiliationDonors$ Raised%
20221$50041.7
20002$40033.3
20181$30025.0
20213$16713.9
20091$1008.3
19761$1008.3
19971$504.2
19781$252.1
20171$252.1
20191$100.8
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