Opportunity for costume collections in need of professional attention



Angels Project volunteers working last year at the Lincoln County Historical Association Museum in Maine. Photo courtesy of Connie Frisbee Houde.

Costume Society of America
Application deadline: 7/1/2018

In 2019, the Costume Society of America will hold its national meeting at the Westin Seattle Hotel from April 15-22, and as a service project the organization will be offering its professional expertise to an institution that has a tangible costume collection and is located within a 45 minute drive of downtown Seattle. The CSA’s Angels Project has been in operation for 13 years, and you can learn more about some of the previous projects here

The CSA is a professional organization that advances the global understanding of all aspects of dress and appearance and works to stimulate scholarship and encourage study in the rich and diverse field of dress. The CSA Angels Project is a one-day service event held near the site of the organization’s national symposium. In the Seattle area, the Angels Project will take place on April 16, 2019. During the event, CSA members provide conservation, storage and curatorial assistance to a tangible costume collection at a small institution. In addition, training in collections care is given to staff and volunteers. 

This golden opportunity will be awarded to one qualified small museum, historic home or other suitable site in the Seattle area. To be considered, an institution must submit a grant application by July 1, 2018.

The most popular format chosen by previously chosen site’s staff for their Angels Project has been to process costume, textiles and/or accessories for storage. The artifacts are photographed, vacuumed, labeled, artifact descriptions written, and objects rehoused for storage but other projects needed by the institution can be undertaken. In 2008 CSA Angels worked at Jackson Barracks Military Museum in the lower ninth ward, New Orleans, Louisiana where the physical building of the museum had been swept away by the power surge after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After the power surge all of the clothing artifacts were found outdoors in the mud. Angels cleaned hundreds of items, started new documentation including photography, created padded hangers, built temporary hanging storage and completed simple textile conservation treatments. In 2014 at another site mannequins were altered to fit costumes slated for exhibition while in Cleveland during 2016 textile conservators guided other Angels to treat fur garments which had a mold problem. Each workday is designed by the site staff and the Angels Project leadership to meet the needs of the institution.

The CSA Angels Project also works to provide storage supplies, other supplies and equipment for the chosen site. The Angels Project contacts museum supply businesses requesting donations needed by the location and companies have been very responsive. After it is determined what goods have been given, the Angels Project purchases some other needed supplies and equipment. All is sent to the institution at no cost to the site. Vacuum cleaners, cameras, shelving, safes, exhibition supplies, heaters have been purchased and provided at different years as requested by the institution.

To learn more about the CSA and to apply for the Angels Project opportunity, click here and scroll down to the bottom of that page to find the 2019 application.) Questions can be directed to Martha Winslow Grimm, Costume and Textile Conservator and Co-chair of the 2019 Angels Project at mwgrimm@cox.net or 602-996-1296. 


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AKCHO was established to encourage cooperation among historical organizations and to promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve, and to support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

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