Museums in the Cairns region have come together to showcase some fabulous frocks and textile treasures in a new exhibition Dressed to Impress. The exhibition will open on Friday, March 8 at the Cairns Museum.
Dressed to Impress features dresses from the collections of Cairns Museum, Mulgrave Settlers Museum, Babinda Taskforce and Cairns and District Chinese Association Inc (CADCAI), as well as loan items from private collections in Cairns.
The exhibition is co-curated by the Queensland Museum’s Cairns-based Museum Development Officer (MDO) Dr Joanna Wills.
Dr Wills said the exhibition showed the diversity and significance of the collections held in local Museums.
“Museums in Cairns are custodians of wonderful local collections through which we can understand the ways culture, tradition and geography have interacted with the tropical climate to create our own sense of place.
“This is especially true of fashions, where changes in styles and fabric capture the mood of the period in which they are made,” she said.
Suzanne Gibson, manager of Cairns Museum, said the exhibition included dresses made or worn in the Cairns region from 1900 through to 2012.
“Of particular interest will be a wedding dress designed and made by Gordonvale’s legendary seamstress Kath Moss, as well as an early piece from Cairns designer Grace Lillian Lee.
“Each item in the exhibition has a wonderful story to tell and will, we hope, spark memories for locals, as we’re hoping to extend our research into local designers, dressmakers and fashion retailers,” she said.
Dressed to Impress follows a 2017 Cairns Regional Council funded workshop with textile specialist Dr Michael Marendy, who worked with Dr Wills, Museum staff and volunteers on textile conservation, storage and display strategies.
Dr Wills said the skills gained through Dr Marendy’s training have been critical to the exhibition.
“It is important that we know how to care for the objects we hold in trust for our communities, so we can show them in exhibitions like Dressed to Impress.
“Come and see for yourself the skills that have been brought together in this exhibition. I am sure locals will feel that their collections are in good hands.”
Dr Joanna Wills Queensland Museum MDO (0478 307 447)
Suzanne Gibson Manager Cairns Museum (0413 88 5159)