An 18 month costume trail is on display to the public across Worthing. The trail consists of a portable and changing series of displays using Worthing Museum and Art Gallery's (WMA) costume collection, and is hosted in showcases by local businesses. The trail of costumes will show how fashion can chart the history of Worthing, creating a visual reminder of the people who lived during various periods.
WMA’s costume collection features over 30,000 pieces, predominantly from 1740 to the present day, including their earliest item which is a 1612 black-work jacket. An untapped resource, the collection is one the largest in the UK.
Working with local groups of children WMA will host research workshops to link the costumes with points of local history and showcase that research alongside the costumes throughout Worthing
Members of the public can able to follow the trail using a trail-map. This features questions for each costume, and may be exchanged for cinema tickets when each site has been visited and the questions answered correctly. Each map will also invite people to record their own memories relating to the costumes to create new heritage.
The showcases will become cabinets of curiosity once the trail has ended to create a lasting legacy for the museum.
The Costume Trail is as much about people as the items themselves. Throughout the creation of the trail, WMA has been assisted by volunteers, the businesses in which the cases are housed and local groups, making this a fully community led project.
Two of the groups who have been involved since the beginning of the trail’s creation are Worthing-based Creative Waves and Men in Sheds. Arts group Creative Waves have run a series of workshops with local children and young people, to produce the attention-grabbing artwork you see inside the showcases, reflecting the decades in which the selected costumes were made and worn. Worthing-based charity Men in Sheds, who support the health and wellbeing of men through their unique offering of shed making and mending, have created the wardrobe styled doors for a number of the cases on display.
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery has received financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund who have invested £76,800 into the costume trail, as well as South East Museum’s Development Fund of £26,800. The combined funding will see the acquisition of 12 state-of-the-art Click Netherfield showcases which will be placed in businesses around town.
Gerry Connolly, Senior Curator at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery says: “The Costume Trail has been a long time in the planning and I am very excited to see it finally come to life. I have been the curator of costume for over 10 years here at Worthing Museum & Art Gallery and know how amazing the collection and our museum is. Join the trail and experience the costume collection out in our community, visit our fantastic museum and most importantly have fun.”
Executive Member for Customer Services, Councillor Dr Heather Mercer says “It is a privilege to open our historical collection to the public by displaying these beautiful costumes throughout Worthing, and bringing these displays to the community. With over 30,000 different costumes we have one of the largest collections in the UK and I’m looking forward to seeing how people engage and interact with the exhibition and the town’s social heritage.”
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