The Museum of London has succeeded in securing £10,000 to preserve its display of 18th and 19th century costumes in a scene of the Vauxhall pleasure gardens. The crowdfund set up through the Art Fund was launched by fashion curator Timothy Long and broke its target with days still to go after nearly 250 backers contributed, although donations are still welcome.
On December 3 with two days left to go until the deadline the Museum of London posted “Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to our #RedressingPleasure campaign. Your donation will help us to restore precious 18th century fashion and preserve it for future visitors to enjoy. There is still time to donate. Find out more and donate here: http://ow.ly/D0HA30gLYT5”
Just four days before the deadline the fund was still 2000 short. “Your support will help us with the conservation and exhibition of clothing and accessories that are between 150 and 250 years old, many of which have never before been exhibited,” said Long in an impassioned call for a final push to make the target. “The fragile nature of this material requires the specialised skill, experience and patience of a textile conservator to stabilise the artefacts and ensure their safety whilst on display. Melina Plottu, our in-house textile conservator, is in charge of the design and implementation of the conservation intervention. It is a big responsibility and we want to ensure that she has all the necessary support to successfully complete the endeavour.”
Premium Reproductions and Mannequins
He said that the new display would incorporate as many period accessories as possible but some are too fragile even for this display. Therefore producing high-quality reproductions has been a key aim of this project. “One of the key items we plan to reproduce are hats. I will work in close collaboration with Jane Smith of Jane Smith Hats, one of the UK’s leading milliners for movies, theatre and TV; she will hand-craft seven hats to complete the ensembles,” said Long.
Even the mannequins are going to be carefully made to properly show each costume. “For this work, we will not only re-shape each mannequin into the appropriate silhouette, but we will also create custom-made petticoats, hoopskirts and panniers (and so much more), to properly and safely display each ensemble.”
Rewards shared by every future visitor
About 120 backers or half the total number did not even wish for a reward for their contribution. But the campaign still featured some unique rewards from a set of exclusive postcards to fashion talks and tours. What is humbling about this campaign is not just that historians and culture fans came together to back this project ahead of the deadline but also that some of the high-end rewards of VIP experiences and a late opening go unclaimed. Instead the fund has been fuelled by donations under £200 by devotees who have surely given a larger contribution than their budgets would normally accept. This was not big corporate backing or rich individuals cashing in for a unique experience but everyday costume fans who have done the costume world proud.
by Stewart Vickers, Editor
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