For the next few months, visitors at the Alberni Valley Museum will have a chance to see the clothes that Port Alberni residents wore over the last 200 years.
Dressing Alberni is an exhibit that runs until Feb. 16, 2019 and offers a chance to see the museum’s textile collection up close and on mannequins. All of the outfits on display come from the museum’s collection, which has been in storage drawers until now.
“It’s so different to see them on a person,” said collections curator Kirsten Smith. “Even putting them on the mannequins…there are some things we don’t know about until we put it on. You learn all the secret pockets.”
The Royal BC Museum in Victoria loaned a number of mannequins for the exhibit, which displays everything from an 1850s dress to a cheerleading outfit from the 1980s. Other pieces include a wedding dress, children’s clothing and even Nuu-chah-nulth dance regalia.
Most of the items in the museum have been donated by Alberni Valley residents, said Smith, although some of the records are lost or incomplete. The exhibit includes historical information about each outfit.
Although the museum has more than 50 pieces in its textile collection, the floor space is limited for the Dressing Alberni exhibit. Smith had to pick and choose clothing, based on a “balance” of different eras and uses.
“You have to make a choice because there’s only so much space,” she said.
Along with the textiles, the museum also has a “touch wall” for visitors to see and feel different types of fabrics up close. A few outfits are also available for kids to play dress up.
The textiles were changed just last week to allow more items to be displayed, so people who have already paid a visit to Dressing Alberni can see something new on their second trip.
“Most of them have been on display in the drawers,” said Smith. “This is just a whole different way to see them.”