Digital Collections of Extant Costumes
This directory lists online collections of extant (ie surviving) historical costume, generally in museums.
It replaces the “Real Women’s Clothing” directory; happily and unhappily, it has gotten to the point where there are so many extensive costume collections online that I can no longer keep up with updating that directory. I will leave the old version of the Real Women’s Clothing directory online, but it will no longer be updated.
If you know of any museum websites or collections databases that include extant costumes, please email me or comment below!
I have assumed that most who use this page will be English speakers. If you need translation help, I recommend Google Translate. If you speak another language, you can ignore the translation advice and (if possible) switch to the original language interface of the website.
* = new listing
# = repaired link
Europeana — cross-museum search:
- Collection database — I recommend trying search in both English and other European languages. So far, I’m not too impressed by the “narrow by date” feature — I suggest searching by century, and again, try it in English and other languages (examples: 18th; 18e; settecento, etc.).
- Collection database — searching in English seems to do the trick, but I recommend also trying other European languages. This database is brand new, so right now your only option is a keyword search — there’s no ability to filter or specify dates. *
Australian Dress Register — cross-museum search
National Gallery of Australia
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
- Collection database – in German. Search by item name and date (optional). Do not use category (Art des Objekts), as it does not work correctly.
Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst
Universität für Angewandte Kunst Wien
Musea Oost-Vlaanderen in Evolutie
- Collection database — try searching “kostuums” to see all the costume items, then on the search results page click “objecten met foto” to see only those with images
Musée du Costume et la Dentelle
Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage
Canadian Museum of Civilization & Canadian War Museum
Musée du Costume et du Textile du Québec
Musée McCord Museum
- Collection database – search the costume & textiles department by keyword, object, category, period, and/or date.
Royal Ontario Museum
- Collection database – browse Fashion & Design category or search by keyword (note Advanced Search does not work correctly).
University of Alberta
Western Development Museum
Museo de la Moda
Museum of Arts & Crafts
- Collection highlights – click on “Predmeti” and then “slijede?i” to browse
Muzeum ve Skutci
Kulturhistorisk Museum Randers
Helsinki University Museum
- Collection highlights – unfortunately the image links aren’t working right now, hopefully they’ll fix them?
Cross-Museum – art from French museums
- Collection database – to search specifically for costume: use the advanced search. 1) Type “Costume” in the “Domaine” box and click on “Index,” select “COSTUME – ACCESSOIRES DU COSTUME.” 2) In “Type d’Objet,” type the name of the garment you are trying to locate (e.g., “Robe”) and click on “Index,” select the type. 3) Optional – enter a century as “##E SIECLE” (e.g., “17E SIECLE” = 17th century). 4) Check off “Avec Image.”
Cross-Museum – art from Parisian museums
- Collection overview – browse the links under Sommaire > Collections > Costumes
Musée des Tissus
- Collection highlights (click on “Collections”)
Musée National du Château de Malmaison
Musée de la Toile de Jouy
Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs
- Collection highlights – browse under “Frise Chronologique”
Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe
- Collection highlights – browse under “Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte” > “Textilien”
Bayerisches National Museum
- Collection highlights – click on “Kostüme.”
Deutches Historiches Museum
- Collection higlights
- Collection database – search by keyword in the “Suche uber alle Felder wortweise” box. To browse: in the Objektart box, type in “Kleidung” (clothing); use “Datierung” to specify dates.
Deutsches Ledermuseum, Offenbach
- Collection highlights – of interest are both the Shoe Museum and Museum for Applied Arts
Deutsches Textilmuseum, Krefeld
Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg
Modemuseum in Schloss Ludwigsburg
Museen Nord – Museums in Schleswig-Holstein & Hamburg
- Collection database — try “kleidung” for all costume items
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Staaliche Museen zu Berlin
Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha
Kyoto Costume Institute
Bunka Costume Museum
- Collection database – in Japanese.
Abiti Antichi (private collection?)
Banca dati di Immagini per la Didattica (cross-museum search)
- Collection database (try searching for: abito, costumi, costume)
Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia (cross-museum search for Venetian museums)
- Collection database – interface is in English, but records (and therefore search terms!) are in Italian
Museo del Costume Raffaello Piraino
- Collection highlights – in Italian. Choose a type of costume (feminine, masculine, etc.), then look on the bottom left for links to browse items.
Museo del Tessuto
Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo
- Collection highlights – in Italian. Browse by room to see collection highlights, some of which include costume.
Museo di Roma
- Collection highlights of real period costumes, not reproductions
Museo de Historia Mexicana
- Collection database – in Dutch
Fries Museum Leeuwarden
Gemeente Museum Den Haag
- Collection database – even though it appears to be in English, you must search using Dutch terms. Search by item name, or use the general “kleding” to search for all costume. The Period search doesn’t appear to work correctly, but once you’ve run your search you can use the “Refine Query” options on the right to narrow by period, location, material, etc.
- Digital exhibition (“Accessorize, 1550-1950″)
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Whanganui Regional Museum
- Collection highlights – Click on “New Zealand.”
Centralne Muzeum Wlókiennictwa
Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie
State Hermitage Museum
- Collection database. TO BROWSE BY COUNTRY: choose the “Costume” category, then follow the prompts to browse by country. TO DO MORE COMPLICATED SEARCHES: choose “Advanced Search” (on the right), then choose “Costume” as a category, then choose the options you like.
Centre de Documentació i Museu Tèxtil de Terrassa
Museo Nacional de Céramica y Artes Suntuarias
- Collection database – in Spanish. Search using “indumentaria” to see all costume items (there aren’t too many).
Museo San Telmo Museoa
- Collection database – but the search doesn’t seem to be working! Your only option, until they fix it, is to browse the Ethnography category (which includes costumes, and many other items)
Museo del Traje
- Collection highlights
- Collection database – in Spanish. Search by item name, or use “indumentaria historica” to see all costume items.
Museu Textil i d’Indumentaria
Cross-museum search – textiles & apparel
- Collection database — click on “SEARCH,” and then use the helpful pull-downs at the top of the page.
- Collection database – some of the interface is in English, but you need to search in Swedish!
Historisches Museum Basel
Musee Suisse de la Mode
- Collection database – choose your preferred language on the top left (German, French, or Italian), then Collections (“Sammlungen,” “Collections,” or “Collezioni”), then Costume (“Textilien/Kostume,” “Textiles/Costumes,” or “Tessili/Costumi”), then choose Show Objects from this Collection (“Objekte aus diesem Ressort anzeigen,” “Montrer les objets de cette section,” or “Mostrare gli oggetti di questa sezione”) (on right).
Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
- Collection database – browse by selecting “Textiles,” or search on the left.
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
- Collection highlights – browse by using the left-hand links (eg “George IV,” “Internationalism,” etc.).
- Collection database
Bristol City Museums
Brontë Parsonage Museum
- Collection database – choose “Museum collection,” then search by item name.
Cecil Higgins Art Gallery
- Collection highlights and/or database – temporarily offline, should eventually be linked here!
Cowper and Newton Museum
- Collection database – search by item name in the top right search box; don’t use Advanced Search, it has un-useful options.
- Collection database – search by item name, or use the “Detailed Search” options to get more specific.
- Collection highlights
- Collection database – of interest are the boot and shoe collection, bags collection, and fans collection.
Kent Costume Trust
Lawrence House Museum
Leeds Museums & Galleries
Leicestershire County Council Museums Service
London Foundling Hospital
- Digital exhibition (“Threads of Feeling,” 18th c. textile swatches)
Moyse’s Hall Museum
Museum of London
National Museums of Scotland
Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
Royal Albert Memorial Museum
- Collection highlights
- Collection database – okay, this database is WEIRD. The only way I’ve found to find all of the costume items is to search by material (ie silk, linen, cotton). Seriously. Searches for things like “dress,” “costume,” “clothing,” etc. do not bring up all the relevant items.
- Collection database – browse by choosing “object categories” and then “textiles and fans,” or search using the top right search box.
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museums
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
University of Manchester
Victoria & Albert Museum
American Textile History Museum
Beverley Birks Vintage Haute Couture Collection
Chicago History Museum
- Collection database
- Digital Exhibition (“Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum,” 1878-1961)
Cincinnati Art Museum
- Collection database – browse by choosing “Costume & Textiles” on the left, or search using the box on the right.
Columbia College Chicago – Fashion Columbia Study Collection
- Collection database – browse by choosing women/men/ethnic on the right, or search using “advanced search.”
Connecticut – Cross-Museum Search
Connecticut Historical Society
Costar Vintage Clothing and Costume Archive
Darien Historical Society
Detroit Historical Museum
Drexel University Historic Costume Collection
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Fashion Institute of Technology
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Henry Ford Historic Costume Collection
Historic New England
Indiana State Museum
- Collection database — use the Advanced Search to specify specific types, dates, etc.
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Kansas State Historical Society
Kent State University Museum
Litchfield Historical Society
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Collection database
- Collection highlights
- Past exhibition (“Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915″ — see in particular the patterns based on extant garments)
Memorial Hall Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Mint Museum of Art
Missouri Historical Society
- Digital exhibition (“unCommon Threads: Stories of Missouri Brides,” 1800-2007)
Museum of the City of New York
- Digital exhibition (Worth and Mainbocher)
Museum of Fine Arts (Boston)
New Jersey Historical Society
North Dakota State University
Ohio State University Historic Costume & Textiles Collection
Old State House Museum
Old Sturbridge Village
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Phoenix Art Museum
Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art
San Diego Historical Society
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History
Staten Island Historical Society
University of New Hampshire Museum
- Past exhibition (“Tailored to Teach: Highlights from the Irma Bowen Textile Collection”)
University of North Carolina
University of Virginia