Southend Museums Service
Southend on Sea
Tel: 01702 434449
Clare Hunt, Curatorial Manager, email@example.com, tel: 01702 434449
Claire Reed, Conservator, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 01702 434449
Southend Museums Service has been acquiring costume as part of its social history collection since opening in the 1970s. Since being re-housed, organised and exhibited at the Beecroft Art Gallery, the costume has become a major strength of the Service. Costume exhibitions take place once a year and themes explored in the past include wedding costume, beachwear, and evening dress as well as various decades.
The collections’ main strengths are the decades from the 1920s to the 1970s and includes men’s, women’s and children’s costume and accessories of all kinds, but there are important earlier pieces, most notably a rare, 17th century slap sole shoe.
Not surprisingly, beach wear is a major area of collection: in 2009 Southend received a donation of 500 bathing suits from collector, Mavis Plume. They date from around 1900 to the 1980s and include several rare pieces. After a selection was displayed in 2010, much interest was expressed by other museums with the result that a travelling exhibition is being put together and should be available from spring 2012.
Museum staff Clare Hunt and Claire Reed are regular contributors to conferences and training events in the eastern region and have held many talks and behind the scenes tours of their exemplary costume stores for museum colleagues as well as members of the public.