Out with the old … Conservation changes in Enriching Fashion

Out with the old … Conservation changes in Enriching Fashion

Yesterday seven items were taken out of the cases in Te Papa’s exhibition: Enriching Fashion: an eye for detail on level 4.

In the photograph below a jaunty two-piece playsuit from the 1960s is removed from a case and replaced with a one-piece bathing suit that is almost a hundred years old.

Bathing suit changeover, 10 March 2011, by Te Papa staff. Photograph by Kirstie Ross

For some reason the frill around the waist of the pair of togs now on display (below) can be removed – a very curious feature.

Edwardian bathing suit ready to go on display in Enriching Fashion. Photograph by Kirstie Ross

These replacements are necessary because some of the garments and accessories have been on display and exposed to light for their allotted time.

Textiles are light sensitive so Te Papa’s textile conservators recommend that they are displayed for limited time periods. This precaution means that garments have the best chance of being preserved for the future.

Waistcoat, circa 1780, Maker unknown, France. Bequest of Mrs Alec Tweedie, 1946. Te Papa
Waistcoat, circa 1780, Maker unknown, France. Bequest of Mrs Alec Tweedie, 1946. Te Papa

This richly embroidered man’s waistcoat (above), which is 230 years old, has been replaced by an even older embroidered child’s bodice. It will be on display in Enriching Fashion on on level 4 until June.

Another replacement item is a beautiful lilac wedding dress (below left) that was made in Italy in 1909, which has taken the place of a delicately ruffled day dress made for a London department store about 1900.

1909 Wedding dress (left) replaces 1900s day dress (right) in the Eyelight gallery. Photograph by Kirstie Ross
For more garments and accessories see Enriching Fashion: an eye for detail.


  1. LOL… Maybe the removable frilly bit was for the more riskay woman of the day!

    Wonder what uv protection rating the cancer society would give them?

    maybe a 2000+

    I used to wear a vest like that!

    1. Maybe she could swim a little faster too, without the additional weight?! Kirstie

  2. Two piece bathing suit… at least the Victorians had the sense to cover up their skins.. remember the bathing sheds moved down to the beach for them to reach the water, werent Men and Ladies not allowed to dip together? If one was to show that outfit to a child today, they would not believe it was a bathing suit, probably say underwear, vest and bloomers to go under the crinoline clothes! Love the wedding clothes.. and the lovely waistcoat.. The Victorian era wore lovely clothes, not like 2011 fashion statements!

    1. Back then it was modesty – these days its melanoma. Glad you liked the other garments in the blog. Kirstie

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