Kate Loubser, Curator of Historic Collections
Tel: 01903 221448
Gerry Connolly, Assistant Curator
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery has collected costume and textiles since it opened in 1908. There are now about 30,000 objects, a few of which are on are permanent display, and others are shown in temporary exhibitions. Within the costume and textiles collection, which take the form of whole garments such as dresses or component parts such as bodices, skirts, underwear etc, as well as accessories including fans, bags, hats, and jewellery., there are also domestic and decorative textiles such as quilts and samplers. The associated ephemera, such as related photographs, letters, paper patterns etc, is a much smaller part of the collection but no less important as it is this that often puts the objects into a social context.
Worthing Museum is a gem – the costume collection is outstanding and extremely diverse. It has truly benefited from the lack of collecting policy in the past in the fact that anything and everything was collected.
The earliest complete piece in the collection is a linen black-work jacket dated c1612. The main bulk of the collection starts from the mid 1800 and the collection is still expanding. The strengths of the collection are 19th century dress and 20th century homemade and ready-to-wear. Although the largest part of the collection in women’s wear there is a significant collection of men’s, children’s and infants costume and accessories. The museum houses a series of permanent ground floor galleries whilst exhibitions are held regularly in the temporary exhibition gallery on the first floor.