Friday, June 5, 2009

Upcoming events at Dumbarton House and Hillwood Museum

The Dupont-Kalorama Museum Consortium, a group of 10 museums in the Dupont Circle/Kalorama area of Washington, D.C. (near Embassy Row- easily accessibly by Metro from the Dupont Circle stop) is hosting a Dupont-Kalorama Museum Walk weekend tomorrow, June 6, from 10-4 and Sunday the 7th from 1-5. The walk features free admission to all 10 museums and a variety of special activities, including one that I would have loved as a child and would be going to if I were in town this weekend. It's Dumbarton House's Costume Family Days, with kid-friendly costume-themed activities including turban-making and block-printing, a fiber artist on Saturday, and a visit from "Dolley Madison" on Sunday, as well as access to "Preparing for the Ball," the excellent costume-focused exhibition which I wrote about here.

Later this month, on Wednesday, June 17, collector and scholar Mary Doering (who lent a number of objects for "Preparing for the Ball") will be giving a lecture titled "A Revolution in Fashion: Clothing of the Federal Era" at Dumbarton House for $8 ($5 for students). The DH website gives quotes of "historical context" for her lecture on menswear and womenswear. The quote pertaining to menswear reads:
The nineteenth-century preference for wool…over elaborately embroidered or decorative silks conveyed a growing professional sobriety appropriate for commercial centers such as Georgetown and the developing Federal City of Washington. These dark wool suits were the precursors of the standard male business attire worn today….

This is a topic near to my heart, since I wrote my thesis on George Washington's attire and contrasted his sartorial choices to those of his European contemporaries (as well as the impact of import and manufacturing on fabric availability in early America, the growing informality of English clothing throughout the 18th century, the differences between Washington's everyday and portrait dress, his clothing and accessory choices as President and as former president, etc. etc. etc.). I will be very interested in hearing what she has to say!

Finally, on June 24th at lunchtime (12:30-1:15), curator of costumes and textiles Howard Kurtz will give a curatorial talk at Hillwood Museum on Marjorie Merriweather Post's dresses from the 1920s that will be on display at the house. Kurtz is also Associate Professor of Theater at George Mason University and Production Manager for the GMU Players Mainstage Season, as well as the costume designer for Olney theatre in Olney, Maryland.

Are any of you attending these events? Let me know and I will see you there!

Photograph of Marjorie Merriweather Post at Hillwood in 1965 by Alfred Eisenstaedt, Life Magazine.

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