The Henry Williams Costume Collection originated in the 1930s when the theater professor after whom the collection is named started acquiring historical costumes for theatrical study. The collection gradually grew through gifts from the theater department, alumni, and community members and was transferred to the care of the Hood Museum of Art in 1985. Margaret Spicer, professor of theater and adjunct curator of the costume collection, joined the faculty in the 1970s and took over the care of the collection. She has taught extensively with these collections and has organized several exhibitions from its large holdings of nineteenth- and twentieth-century female dress, including Wedding Dresses (1989), Crinolines, Bustles, and Tight Lacing: Creating the Artificial Silhouette (1993), and Completing the Picture: Hats, Fashion, and Fine Art (2000).
Most of the museum's textiles were part of the anthropology and history collections, which were merged with the fine arts holdings in 1985. These textiles represent a diverse range of culture groups, including Africa, South Asia, Central America, Native America, and Asia.
The Artificial Silhouette: Crinolines, Bustles, and Tight-Lacing
Hood Museum of Art, May 1-July 18, 1993
Completing the Picture: Hats, Fashion, and Fine Art
Hood Museum of Art, March 28-September 24, 2000.