The curator behind every LSU Textile and Costume Museum exhibit retires this month. What’s next for the museum and her successor?

Pam Vinci has worked with the LSU Textile and Costume Museum collections since before the museum was officially a museum. She graduated from LSU with her master’s degree in textiles and apparel in 1986 and was asked to stay on and work as a professor.

“Beginning in the 1930s, faculty members would bring pieces back from their travels for examples to show in their coursework,” Vinci, the museum’s outgoing director and curator, says. “It wasn’t until the ’80s, when a professor of history of apparel began to gather it all together and ask for additional donations from the outside community (that we started the official collection). We did not change the name to ‘museum’ until we had an exhibition gallery in the early ’90s.” 

Since, Vinci has helped organize The Friends of the LSU Textile and Costume Museum to raise funds and grow support. She’s collected about 15,000 pieces and garments that have been added to its collection, personally raised more than $500,000 through grants and funding through different agencies, and has either curated or co-curated all 20 exhibitions in the museum’s history. 

Vinci will retire this month after decades with the museum. She’ll be succeeded by Michael Mamp, a fashion historian with 14 years experience working for major brands like Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lane Bryant. Through a previously established connection with the Valentine Museum, Mamp was able to bring an estimated $500,000 worth of pieces to LSU, including Balenciaga, Balmain and Chanel ensembles. 

225 sat down with the duo to talk about their accomplishments and what’s next for the museum.  

Pam, tell me about your accomplishments with the museum.

Pam Vinci: Well, just curating the exhibits and having the public, as well as students, come to learn from has given me a great feeling of accomplishment. I enjoyed talking with the outside community about museum pieces that were related to Louisiana and to Baton Rouge. 

What do you plan to do in retirement?

Vinci: I’m looking forward to spending time with my grandchildren. I have two girls and we have a sewing machine. But first, we have to make one more trip to the dairy store

Do you feel like you’ll be leaving the museum in good hands?

Vinci: Oh, yes, couldn’t be better. It’s not because (Mamp) is sitting here. He’s a star. He just is. 

Michael, you got to LSU a year ago. What brought you here?

Michael Mamp: I came because I wanted to work in a university with a collection, not just from an exhibition perspective. I love all that work related to artifacts. I’m really interested in fashion and our collection here is particularly strong in European and American fashion of the 20th century.

Besides bringing the Valentine Museum collection, what else would you like to accomplish in your new role for the museum? 

Mamp: Our goal going forward is that we’re going to do two exhibitions per year. So one in the spring and one in the fall. This year will be our first year doing that. I’m just continually looking for ways to engage the community and make them aware that we’re here. I’m also looking for ways to continue and build upon partnerships with other institutions in the community. Our campus is gated and it’s difficult for people to get here, so we are looking for ways to expand our footprint. 

As a farewell and thank you for her decades of time and work dedicated to the museum, The Friends of the LSU and Costume Museum is hosting a Spring Reception in honor of Vinci on Wednesday, May 17, at the Governor’s Mansion. Hors d’oeuvres will be served by Gourmet Girls and a sneak peak of the museum’s upcoming Coming Home: Geoffrey Beene exhibition will be presented. 

Tickets are $100 each and the event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Governor’s Mansion is located on 1001 Capitol Access Rd.