European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

Meeting Fashion Heritage: Germanisches Nationalmuseum

EFHAfashion historyfashion museum

The second issue presenting the people and institutions part of our EFHA World

For the second issue of ‘Meeting Fashion Heritage’, the column intended to present to the public the marvels of fashion heritage via its keepers, we virtually visit the Germanisches National Museum, located in Nuremberg, Germany.

The Germanisches Nationalmuseum was founded in 1851 by a Franconian nobleman and his friends in Nuremberg, in Germany. Today, the museum is the largest museum of cultural history in the German-speaking region. Setting nation-wide standards through its scientific and scholarly achievements, the museum researches the history of art and culture in German-speaking areas in an internationally integrated way, with various insights and results. The permanent exhibition areas captivate visitors thanks to the original, awakening curiosity in art and culture that sustains the narratives of the displays.

Various collection areas cover all fields of art and cultural history, from prehistoric time to the present. The collection of textiles, dress and jewellery counts more than 45.000 items; it comprises textiles from the late antiquity to the present day, clothing from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, and a wide range of traditional fabrics and regional costumes. The collection is then complemented by a jewellery collection counting items from the middle ages to the present.

One of the permanent galleries is dedicated to women’s, men’s and children’s clothing from the eighteenth to the late 1970s. The display counts more than 300 original pieces of clothing, distributed on a surface of 1000 m². The objects span three centuries, illustrating fashion trends and their multiple social meanings and connections. A chronological section evokes the leitmotifs of men’s and women’s clothing. A second part is articulated in selected themes exploring fashion and clothing cultures. Twenty large display cases present underwear, swimwear, children’s clothes, as well as regional dress, clothing used in wartime and in the post-war years, wedding dresses, headgear, shoes, and finally outfits linked to the political appropriation of clothing. Thanks to the variety of chronologies, styles and materialities of the objects displayed, the visitor gets a deep insight into forms and modes of wearing, materials, production and the social symbolism of clothing. The joint presentation of what is commonly regarded as “fashion” together with “regional dress” is unique, since it allows to show rural dress that emerged in the nineteenth century in antithesis to urbanization and industrialization.

Part of the collection can be accessed and researched via the museum’s online catalogue.