The Costume Gallery was revamped in Autumn 2011, featuring both a main exhibition and a smaller 'costume of the month' display.
In our throwaway culture it’s often hard to imagine that people used to buy clothes to last a long time. To have holiday clothing that lasted years even decades is unheard of now, but that is what is now on display in Horsham Museum’s bright and colourful costume exhibition ‘High Days and Holidays’. The District Council’s museum, some 25 miles from the sea, has been collecting summer fashion ware for decades and can now reveal it in all its glory: from a 1930’s wild silk jumpsuit or beach pyjamas in a green and blue floral pattern on a pink background, to a 1920’s women's one-piece, navy blue cotton jersey swimsuit. The blue net bikini with a matching cover-up top made by Bernard Altman made in the mid 1960s is certainly more revealing.
‘High Days and Holidays’ captures through costume the ever changing relationship the British have had with holidays. Originally connected to the church as a saint’s day, most holidays had local connections with a specific saint with only a small number of nationwide celebrations. With the Reformation came a number of new festivals, featuring ‘folk customs’ such as Morris dancing – a costume of which is also on display.
The exhibition will last six months and is both a trip down the rural lane, showing walking costumes and items worn in the countryside and is a fascinating glimpse at costume that revealed more of the body as comfort and relaxation took hold, where keeping up appearances became less important than keeping up the sun tan. With a wide range of summer hats, swim wear and costume spanning 150 years it is a perfect exhibition to view during the High days and holidays.
For further information contact Jeremy Knight, Museum and Heritage Manager.