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

INTERNATIONAL

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.).
Europeana Fashion — cross-museum search:
  • 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. *

AUSTRALIA

Australian Dress Register — cross-museum search

National Gallery of Australia

Powerhouse Museum

AUSTRIA

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst

Universität für Angewandte Kunst Wien

Wien Museum

BELGIUM

Mode Museum

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

CANADA

Canadian Museum of Civilization & Canadian War Museum

Musée du Costume et du Textile du Québec

Musée McCord Museum

Royal Ontario Museum

University of Alberta

Western Development Museum

CHILE

Museo de la Moda

CROATIA

Museum of Arts & Crafts

CZECH REPUBLIC

Cross-museum search

Muzeum ve Skutci

DENMARK

Kulturhistorisk Museum Randers

Nationalmuseet

FINLAND

Helsinki University Museum

  • Collection highlights – unfortunately the image links aren’t working right now, hopefully they’ll fix them?

Museovirasto

FRANCE

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

Musée Galliera

Musée des Tissus

Musée National du Château de Malmaison

Musée de la Toile de Jouy

Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs

GERMANY

Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe

Bayerisches National Museum

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

Deutsches Textilmuseum, Krefeld

Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg

Landesmuseum Württemberg

Modemuseum in Schloss Ludwigsburg

Museen Nord – Museums in Schleswig-Holstein & Hamburg

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Staaliche Museen zu Berlin

Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha

JAPAN

Kyoto Costume Institute

Bunka Costume Museum

ITALY

Abiti Antichi (private collection?)

Banca dati di Immagini per la Didattica (cross-museum search)

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

Tirelli Costumi

MEXICO

Museo de Historia Mexicana

NETHERLANDS

Centraal Museum

Fries Museum Leeuwarden

Gemeente Museum Den Haag

Rijksmuseum

  • 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″)

NEW ZEALAND

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Whanganui Regional Museum

POLAND

Centralne Muzeum Wlókiennictwa

Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie

PORTUGAL

Cross-Museum Search

RUSSIA

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.

SPAIN

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

Museo del Traje

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.
Museums of Aragon

SWEDEN

Cross-Museum Search

  • Collection database – some of the interface is in English, but you need to search in Swedish!
Cross-Museum Search: Livrustkammarens, Skoklosters Castle, and Hallwylska Museums

Göteborgs Museum

Kulturen

Nordiska Museet

SWITZERLAND

Historisches Museum Basel

Musee Suisse de la Mode

Schweizerisches Landesmuseen

  • 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).

UNITED KINGDOM

Bassetlaw Museum

Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery

Bowes Museum

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Bristol City Museums

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Cecil Higgins Art Gallery

Corinium Museum

Cowper and Newton Museum

Elmbridge Museum

  • Collection database – search by item name in the top right search box; don’t use Advanced Search, it has un-useful options.

Fashion Museum

  • Collection database – search by item name, or use the “Detailed Search” options to get more specific.

Glasgow Museums

Hampshire Museums

Kent Costume Trust

Lawrence House Museum

Leeds Museums & Galleries

Leicestershire County Council Museums Service

London Foundling Hospital

Manchester Galleries

Moyse’s Hall Museum

Museum of London

National Museums of Scotland

Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Petersfield Museum

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.

Royal Collection

  • 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

Warwickshire Museum

York Castle Museum

UNITED STATES

American Textile History Museum

Beverley Birks Vintage Haute Couture Collection

Chicago History Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum

  • Collection database – browse by choosing “Costume & Textiles” on the left, or search using the box on the right.

Colonial Williamsburg

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

Cooper-Hewitt Museum

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

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Kansas State Historical Society

Kent State University Museum

Litchfield Historical Society

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Memorial Hall Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mint Museum of Art

Missouri Historical Society

Museum of the City of New York

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

Shelburne Museum

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

Winterthur Museum

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joseph Hisey June 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

I am organizing a textile tour to U.K. for 2012. Your site has been of enormous value. Thank you so much.

Joseph

Dawn December 17, 2011 at 4:52 am

Goldmine!

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }