June 1, 2021

Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum

Whatcom Museum Opens Two Historical Garment Exhibits at Old City Hall

The Whatcom Museum is excited to open two new exhibits at Old City Hall, in Downtown Bellingham, highlighting a selection of historical garments from the Museum’s collection spanning the 1800s through the mid-twentieth century. All Dressed Up… and Silk for Suffragettes and Schoolchildren: The Impact on Kimono on European and American Design Practices, c. 1890-1980, open Saturday, May 29.

“When one thinks about the Whatcom Museum collections, many things may come to mind: The John M. Edson Hall of Birds, the contemporary masterpieces in the art collection, the Photo Archives or the treasures in the history collection. Perhaps lesser known is the incredible clothing collection that includes hundreds of examples of historic garments,” said Maria Coltharp, Collections Curator at the Museum.All Dressed Up… highlights some of the colorful artistry of fashion, including items that would have been worn “out on the town,” such as silk and chiffon gowns, vintage designer evening shoes and antique, tailored headwear. The display includes a dramatic 1928 lavender full-length chiffon gown worn by the artist Helen Loggie.

In the exhibit, Silk for Suffragettes and Schoolchildren: The Impact on Kimono on European and American Design Practices, c. 1890-1980, a display of kimono-inspired garments will be featured, revealing American designers’ ingenuity in adapting aspects of the kimono for Western use, as well as the savvy of Japanese designers in anticipating Western demand. Curated by Julia Sapin, Ph.D., Professor of Art History, Western Washington University, the exhibit focuses on items that have come into the Museum’s collection during the past fifty years, primarily from Bellingham community members.

All Dressed Up… will be on exhibit May 29 – October 31, 2021, and Silk for Suffragettes and Schoolchildren will be on exhibit May 29 – August 29, 2021, at the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., Thurs. – Sun., Noon – 5 p.m. For more information visit

The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., offers a variety of exhibitions, programs, tours and activities about art, nature and Northwest history for all ages. Its multi-building campus is in the heart of Bellingham's downtown Arts District. The Museum is currently open at 50% capacity.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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