Building work begins on Worthing Museum and Art Gallery’s nationally recognised Costume Research Centre this summer.
The new state-of-the-art home will house Worthing’s unique costume collection – acknowledged as one of the leading resources for dress history in the UK.
The collection, of more than 30,000 objects, includes garments made for men, women and children; accessories, such as fans, gloves and hats; and tools of the trade like paper patterns and miniature garments made by tailors to show their wares.
Among the facilities the centre will offer will be large tables for researchers to lay out items from the costume collection for measuring, in order to study the construction of the pieces and photograph individual garments in minute detail and without barriers.
It will also house a 360 degree imaging camera that will allow the production of 360 degree imaging of the dress collection.
This will support the development of the online collection catalogue, giving greater access to the collection digitally via the museum’s website.
It will also provide access for researchers from various relevant sectors.
Worthing’s acclaimed costume collection was started when the museum opened in 1908. Acquisition gathered pace in the 1950s and 1960s and since then, it has worked to maintain its status by continuing to add items that broaden its range and increase its depth.
Eighteenth and nineteenth century clothes are a particular strength, but the collection reaches back to the seventeenth century and forward to the present day. The oldest item of clothing is a Jacobean man’s jacket dated around 1610.
Work to collate the extensive collection has already begun with the groundbreaking Objects Unwrapped, a project in partnership with the University of Brighton, which catalogues in depth research papers with the photographed objects offering a detailed and immersive experience to the online audience, giving context and provenance to the items.
Gerry Connolly, museum manager for Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, said: “The costume research centre is a completely unique offering for the south east and nationally, this space allows us to open our doors to production teams, national researchers, fashion brands and students across the region and give them access to our incredible costume collection.”