Making Magic Happen at the Clothing Studio
From Daggett Farm to Mattox Family Home, a big part of the magic and history of The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village is, without a doubt, the clothing. Visitors, members and new employees are often in awe of the amazing variety of period clothing items we produce. The scope of work is immense: clothing and textiles for daily programs, seasonal activities like historic base ball and Hallowe'en, and special events such as Motor Muster, Ragtime, Old Car Festival and Holiday Nights. How all of this wonderful clothing actually gets to Greenfield Village remains a bit of a mystery to the typical guest as well as to many employees of The Henry Ford!
Tucked away on the second floor of Lovett Hall behind a nondescript set of doors, The Clothing Studio is one of the well-kept secrets and hidden gems of The Henry Ford. Between period clothing and uniforms, The Clothing Studio covers over 250 years of fashion (from 1760 to present day) and is the premier museum costume shop in the country. No other museum does what we do at The Henry Ford. It's often surprising to visitors of The Clothing Studio that our own employees actually research, design, develop and create most of our period clothing and textiles onsite. Our talented, dedicated, and productive team with a passion for fashion and historical accuracy is comprised of two full-time staff members, 13 part-time staff members, and a small group of valued volunteers. Together we clothe nearly 800 people a year in multiple outfits of period clothing, costumes, and uniforms.
When it comes to work flow, there really is no downtime in The Clothing Studio. Work on the April opening of Greenfield Village begins before the Holiday Nights program ends with the sewing of hundreds of stock garments for period clothing sites to prepare for hundreds of fitting sessions of new and current employees. Once Greenfield Village is clothed for the opening, the preparation for summer programming begins with a big ramp up to mid-June, with Motor Muster and programs from “Simply Gershwin” to our summer stroller program. In addition to the regular workload, there are also unexpected requests, such as providing clothing for multiple Henry Ford characters for the 2013 North American Auto Show or sewing display curtains for Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s exhibit in the museum.
Every year we strive to not only maintain our high standard of period clothing and textiles, but to improve upon them with research and special training. The Studio staff works collaboratively with many internal departments to ensure research, development, and execution of the best, most historically accurate clothing and accessories to help create an inspirational and authentic experience for our guests. While some clothing or textiles changes in Greenfield Village are quite noticeable, others are subtle. In addition to the typical clothing and accessories updates for new staff and replacement clothing for longtime employees, here are some of the new things you will see from the talented hands of the Clothing Studio staff:
Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum Uniforms
Other textile products
Whether on a farm, in a fine home or on the street, functional and fashionable clothing and textiles have consistently influenced the lives of people throughout history. In today’s world, with so much emphasis on fashion and home decor, we know our guests pay a lot of attention to our presentations and environments. From the second floor in Lovett Hall, The Clothing Studio is proud to be an important and dynamic part of The Henry Ford, playing a significant role in helping enrich educational experiences and delivering “wow” to millions of guests.
Tracy Donohue is General Manager of The Clothing Studio at The Henry Ford
events, Greenfield Village, #Behind The Scenes @ The Henry Ford, fashion, by Tracy Donohue, costumes