Before last fall, the LSU Textile and Costume Museum was a small converted classroom with a handful of vintage garments and artifacts on display.
Now, the newly renovated museum takes up the entire back wing of LSU’s Human Ecology building. It has its own dedicated entrance, seven UV-filtered display cases and has been brightened up with a fresh coat of white paint and studio lighting.
Museum director and curator Pam Vinci has dreamt of this moment for years. With the help of a 2018 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents and fundraising efforts by nonprofit Friends of the LSU Textile and Costume Museum, the museum began renovations in fall 2019.
The new look brings a modern, high-tech, spacious upgrade compared to the small, dark room the museum started in. The team set up the museum’s first exhibit earlier this year.
“When we first got the museum, my comment was that it was the best-kept secret of Baton Rouge,” says Friends of the LSU Textile and Costume Museum vice president Beth Phillips. “Now, we’re ready for this to not be a secret anymore.”
At the ribbon cutting ceremony March 28, visitors will be in on that secret. They’ll be treated to a collection of fashion artifacts at the first rotating exhibit, “A Look Inside: Celebrating 40 Years of Collecting History.” Fashionistas can get an up-close look at designer garments like a 1960s James Galanos dress, a 1970s Chanel suit and other vintage pieces by Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent.
The museum will be warmly welcomed by the event’s special guests—two LSU alumni who have taken the design world by storm: Project Runway All Stars winner Anthony Ryan and New Orleans bridal designer Suzanne Perron.
Once inside the museum, visitors will discover pieces of local history on nearly every shelf and hanger. The museum has been gifted artifacts like a 1920s LSU football letter sweater, a 1930s SEC championship LSU boxing robe, a 1960s fringe leather top that belonged to Baton Rouge TV star “Buckskin Bill” Black and clothing items from Louisiana first families’ inauguration ceremonies.
The museum’s collection dates back to the 1930s, when LSU human ecology professors started collecting textiles to show during classes. In 1980, the museum officially opened and began showing exhibits ranging from women’s aprons to Acadian hand-woven textiles.
Limited space never stopped Vinci and volunteers from adding to the collection. The museum storage room is stacked floor to ceiling with unique American and international artifacts; men’s, women’s and children’s apparel; vintage designer clothes and intricate textiles.
With the opening of the new space, Friends of the LSU Textile and Costume Museum president Jeanne Triche hopes to see more visitors and volunteers contribute and continue fundraising and improving the space.
“We’re trying to get young people excited about this,” Triche says, “so we can pass it on to people who have the passion and enthusiasm that we do.” textilemuseum.lsu.edu
Welcome the museum
The LSU Textile and Costume Museum ribbon cutting ceremony is March 28 at 6 p.m., featuring designer guests Anthony Ryan and Suzanne Perron. Visitors can view the museum’s first new exhibit until April 6. The museum is at the LSU Human Ecology Building. Its hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Find more information on Facebook.
This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.