European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

Meeting Fashion Heritage: ModeMuseum Hasselt

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The first issue of our brand new column presenting the people and institutions part of our EFHA Word

Today we are more than happy to inaugurate a new section of our journal: ‘Meeting Fashion Heritage’. The column is intended to present to the public the marvels of fashion heritage via its keepers: museums, institutions and private collection part of our network. Each issue will highlight the history and current objectives of the different spaces in which fashion heritage is preserved, studied and exhibited. Opening this project is the ModeMuseum Hasselt.

Modemuseum Hasselt is one of the few museums in the Low Countries which is dedicated exclusively to dress and fashion. It opened its doors for the public on 8 May 1988. In its atmospheric seventeenth-century architectural settings, it promotes the understanding and relevance of fashion by sharing critical and engaging stories in an innovative and surprising context.


The collection counts approximately 18.000 garments and accessories telling the history of Western fashion from 1750 up until today. Some chapters are being highlighted, such as sixties fashion, hats and designer shoes. Furthermore important couturiers as Worth, Jacques Doucet, Poiret, Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior, Cardin, Courrèges, Yves Saint Laurent but also Versace, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood are represented in the museum’s collection. As for contemporary fashion a special emphasis is put on designers with international allure who have their roots in Limburg, for example Martin Margiela and Raf Simons. A regional anchoring is visible as well in the collection’s couture garments and accessories from important contemporary and historical fashion houses in Hasselt such as Jeurissen, Moray and Reekmans.

The collection pieces are shown to the public in the museum’s own exhibitions and, as loans, in shows of other museums worldwide such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Palais Galliéra (Paris), Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Landesmuseum Württemberg (Stuttgart), Museo Salvatore Ferragamo (Florence), MoMu Antwerp amongst others.

The museum stages two major fashion exhibitions a year, generally featuring 100 to 130 objects. The museum’s own collection always forms the basis of the presentation supplemented by loans from other museum collections, fashion houses, designers and private collectors. The shows of Fashion Museum Hasselt are very well received by the public and the press. Some major exhibitions staged in recent years are: Devout/Divine – Fashion vs Religion (2010-11), Hello, My name is Paul Smith (2015), Haute-à-porter (2016), Across Japan (2017), Forever YOUNG (2018), Backstage/Frontstage (2018), Wonder Women (2019).

Now on show: SMUK/ Fashion Decoration: A Show-Off until 30 August 2020. SMUK is currently a virtual exhibition, to be enjoyed while staying safe at home!