EVERYDAY AND UNWORN DRESS AS MUSEUM PIECES: A STUDY OF THE HODSON SHOP COLLECTION, WALSALL MUSEUM, 1983-2016
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AuthorsE GILBERT-EVANS, JENNY
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe place and presence of everyday and unworn dress in museums has been largely overlooked in museological and historical accounts of museums and collections. Instead, the focus has been upon the study of elite, spectacular and worn clothing. Similarly, little academic attention has been paid to small-scale, local government operated social history museums, with the bulk of research being conducted into elite national and metropolitan museums or the spectacle of living history museums. This thesis addresses these omissions through a biographical investigation into a single collection of everyday and unworn clothing held by a small and local social history museum: Walsall Museum’s Hodson Shop Collection. Discovered in 1983, the collection consists of around 5,000 items of mass produced unsold shop stock, mainly women’s clothing, from between 1920 and the 1960s. It comprises of the stock of the Hodson General and Fancy Drapers, a small clothing shop located in the lock-making town of Willenhall, West Midlands. Sisters, Edith and Flora Hodson operated the shop between 1920 and around 1971 in the front room of their family home. This thesis provides both a detailed biographical account of the Hodson Shop Collection and a timely account of Walsall Museum’s struggle for survival in an age of increasing austerity. It focuses upon the passage of a large quantity of everyday shop stock items from the world of retail to the museum. Firstly, it demonstrates how the collection has been subject to a range of complex and interconnected external and organisational influences, through an account of its journey to Walsall Museum and its life within the museum, 1983-2016. A number of binary oppositions and hierarchies are explored to show how shifting ideas of value have influenced the survival and visibility of the collection and museum. Secondly, it shows how the statuses of everyday and mass produced items are altered by accession to a museum, challenging the assumption that biographical approaches are most suitable for dealing with ‘spectacular’ aspects of material culture. The story of the Hodson Shop Collection challenges the perception of the museum as a safe and static environment.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.