European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

Meeting Fashion Heritage: MODEMUZE

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Power to the network: introducing the consortium bringing together Dutch and Flemish museums with a unique fashion and costume collection.

Under the name of Modemuze, a growing network of Dutch/Flemish museums with a unique fashion and costume collection are collaborating to permanently present these collections online. As Modemuze, they aim to connect a growing amount of fashion and costume collections and present them as a source of inspiration for fashion lovers, professionals and fashionistas.

The collections of the eighteen collaborating museums represent almost four centuries of fashion and costume history, dating from the sixteenth century until today. However, due to the fragility of the materials the items can only be shown in alternating exhibitions for a maximum period of six months. The large amounts of people that come to visit fashion exhibitions confirm the value these collections still have today, so it’s a real pity that they cannot be shown more often and longer.

There is a great demand for representative and authentic examples of  fashion and costume history: a demand museums can meet. The benefits of such a collaboration between institutes are numerous. Collection mobility increases as institutes are working together closely, collections can be differentiated more to achieve increasingly diverse characteristics and more unique and defined presentations, and the exchange of knowledge between institutes is stimulated, increasing awareness and know-how all around.

Museum collections are part of a larger community of fashion and costume enthusiasts and experts. Modemuze operates as a platform to bring the knowledge, inspiration and passion these communities have together in one place – and connect the museum collections to the broader field.

On the website, participatory tools are continuously developed, so that users will not only be able to search the collections, but also comment on them or add information, stories and images. Their knowledge, experiences and love for the subject is important to represent, and connects museum collections to contemporary themes and topics that are relevant on a professional and personal level.

In the past years, Modemuze has seen contributions from well over 180 authors, half of which do not work in the partner museums; they are collectors, re-enactors, fashion enthusiasts, experts from different fields, and have diverse backgrounds. This indispensable input has allowed the platform to grow, bring collections to life and collect stories from all corners of the field of fashion and costume.

Modemuze is closely connected to Europeana Fashion: the thematic gallery on fashion on, which stemmed out of an international project connecting fashion related institutes from different countries, managed by EFHA. Modemuze is working together with EFHA and Europeana to get a growing amount of collections online and aims to facilitate the use and reuse of fashion heritage