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Kent State University Museum Opens Exhibit of Civil War Fashion in Observance of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War

Posted Sep. 27, 2011

The Kent State University Museum will open the exhibition On the Home Front: Civil War Fashions and Domestic Life on Sept. 30, 2011. A special preview reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 6 - 8 p.m. in the Museum Library and is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested and should be made by calling 330-672-3450.

Evening dress of ivory and green striped gauze, American or European, mid 1860s.

On the Home Front focuses on the daily life and experiences of the American civilian population during the Civil War and in the years immediately following. The pieces on exhibit, including women's and children's costumes, supplemented with related photographs, decorative arts and women's magazines are organized thematically. Far from being a simple trivial diversion during such a critical period, fashion provides a unique window into the lived experience of Americans during the Civil War. Despite being far from the battlefields, women and children were deeply and immediately touched by the conflict.

"As Americans observe the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, the Kent State University Museum will present an exhibit about the material circumstances and domestic life during the Civil War and the years that followed," said Jean Druesedow, director, Kent State University Museum.

One of the highlights of the exhibit is the Keckley quilt, made by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave who served as Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker. The quilt is believed to have been made from scraps of Mrs. Lincoln's dresses. Also on exhibit are Civil War uniforms; cloaks and wraps including a paisley shawl; underwear including corsets and crinolines; four wedding dresses; numerous children's outfits; accessories such as bonnets and shoes; and examples of hair jewelry. The exhibition is drawn primarily from the Kent State University Museum's world class collection of historic fashion, and also includes loans from the Western Reserve Historical Society and the Kent State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives.

The exhibit will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue with close-up detailed images of many of the highlights of the show, available in the Museum Store.

The museum is located at 515 Hilltop Drive, at the corner of East Main and South Lincoln Streets, in Kent, Ohio 44242. The museum is open to the public Wed, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. - 8:45 p.m.; Sundays from Noon - 4:45 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for Seniors, $3.00 for children under 18. The museum is free with a Kent State ID, free to the public on Sundays and offers free parking. For more information call 330-672-3450 or visit

Other exhibits currently on display:

Beyond Fashion - Fiber and Fashion Art by Vincent Quevedo features the intricate work of well-known local fashion designer and Kent State University professor Vincent Quevedo. The exhibition will run through Feb. 12, 2012 in the Higbee Gallery of the Museum.

Sustainable Fashion: Exploring the Paradox, on exhibit through March 18, 2012 in the Stager and Blum Galleries, is a comprehensive look at sustainable practices in fashion. The multi-billion dollar fashion industry is in a powerful position to make significant changes to the social and physical environment that we all live in. The problems in creating clothing are overwhelming and systemic in all facets of production, retail, maintenance and then disposal, causing a crisis for environmental concerns. The exhibition, curated by Noël Paloma-Lovinski, hopes to inform the general public and encourage everyone to re-think their clothing purchases for a more sustainably stylish future.

The museum, accredited by the American Association of Museums, houses one of the nations most important costume collections including high fashion, from the 17th to 21st centuries, examples of world traditional dress, decorative arts, and paintings.

The museum receives support from an Ohio Arts Council Sustainability Grant.

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For more information contact:

Effie A. Tsengas,, 330-672-8398, PR/Marketing, College of the Arts
Sara Hume,, 330-672-0302, Curator, Kent State University Museum

Attn Photo Editors: Digital images are available by contacting Effie Tsengas