Work to start on Costume Cabinet thanks to new grant

A new grant has been awarded to Warrington Museum and Art Gallery (WMAG) which will help preserve and celebrate iconic costumes from the town’s past.

The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) has given the Bold Street museum – one of the oldest in the country – £2,500 to start work on a new 12 month project titled ‘Cabinet of Curious Costume’, the focus of which being to improve access to the museum’s costume collections.

Warrington Museum has a wealth of costumes, uniforms and fashion items in its collections but supported by a grant from the AIM Arts Scholars Charitable Trust Brighter Day scheme, the team will be able to conduct a thorough review of the items in store as well as increasing access to this currently underused collection.

The money will also unlock more opportunities for education and outreach projects which will tell Warrington’s story through the likes of outfits created by renowned 60s and 70s fashion designer Ossie Clark. Even now, the late designer’s dresses are collectors’ items and have been worn by the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

The Museum’s collections also include ceremonial costumes that date back well over a century such as a velvet court suit worn by James Fairclough, Mayor of Warrington between 1894 and 1897.

In addition, WMAG has robes and military uniforms connected to numerous well-known Warrington personalities which it hopes to store in free-hanging conservation covers, enabling these historic garments to be both viewed by the public and preserved for years to come.

The grant from AIM is designed to help small museums recover from the impact of Covid and develop the care and visibility of their collections.

Hannah White, from Warrington Museum, said: “The team at Warrington Museum are thrilled to have received the grant from AIM which will have a massive benefit to our work in caring for our costume collection. Our hope is to increase access to the collection so as to allow a wider number of people to enjoy these very significant historic garments and in doing so, to tell more fascinating stories of the Warrington people to whom these garments once belonged.”