About the Collection
The costume site is made possible by a grant from The Coby Foundation.
Shelburne Museum owns an extensive and varied collection of costumes and accessories, numbering approximately 3,000 items for men, women, and children that date from c. 1700 to 1970. Most of the collection was donated over the last 50 years and clothing of the Webb family and their friends and peers, the Vanderbilt and von Stade families in particular, form a significant portion of the collection.
The collection was comprehensively evaluated in 2009 by costume historian Lynne Z. Bassett with funding support from The Coby Foundation. The study identified the prevailing strength of the collection as a group of clothing and accessories dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This core group includes gilded age dresses and outerwear by Parisian designers House of Worth and Emile Pingat, jazz age shoes of the 1920s and 30s, and an extraordinary collection of fans of all types and materials.
Shelburne Museum’s costume collection is exceptional for its range, quality and condition. It offers an integral contribution to the themes of American and European design, domestic life, and material culture that are reflected across the full spectrum of the Museum’s decorative and fine art collections and in the diverse interiors of its many historic exhibition buildings.
This Web site includes photographs and descriptions of dozens of highlights from Shelburne Museum’s costumes collection. Their beauty, history, and significance are newly understood – and are now publicly available for the first time. Shelburne Museum expresses its deep gratitude to The Coby Foundation for making this project possible.