This sleeve and ruff along with several other clothing and accessories were donated by brothers and sisters Mackintosh Lesley, June, Robyn and William. It was loaned to the Te Papa Museum for the Feathermania exhibition.
Robyn Dickson is delighted that two pieces of clothing that she and her siblings dressed up in when they were children are now on display at the New Zealand Museum Te Papa Tongarewa.
A muff and collar set, probably in penguin feathers, from between 1840 and 1900 was loaned to Te Papa for his Feathermania: Fashion to Die For exhibition.
Dickson, 63, said when his mother passed away a few years ago, his family donated the objects, along with a variety of others, to the Te Hikoi Museum in Riverton.
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She remembered that the items had always been stored in trunks above the closet cupboard and her mother made sure the contents were well taken care of, even if they came from Dickson’s father’s side.
“We used to take them down periodically to try them out, play them and take a look. It was pretty exciting, it was so different, ”she said.
Accessories were all the rage for women of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and had caught the attention of Claire Regnault, senior curator of New Zealand history, when she was preparing the show with her book Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1830 to 1910, published by Te Papa Press.
“Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen this sleeve and collar in time for the book because I would have loved it, but I’m so glad to have it for the show,” said Regnault.
She was able to find the set through Project Ark, which began as a two-year pilot project to catalog Southland’s heritage collections and share them online on eHive.
Project Ark coordinator David Luoni said this was the first loan request Te Hikoi had received from a national museum since his items were uploaded to eHive.
Luoni had attended the exhibition in Wellington and found it “sumptuous”.
“It also represents quite a different take on how we see New Zealand animals. The Victorians, you know, put fashion first.
“It’s a new take on animal welfare, and now we’re putting conservation much more ahead of fashion,” he said.
Feathermania: fashion to die for will be available at the New Zealand Museum Te Papa Tongarewa until April 2022.