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Exhibition: Northern Threads (Part II) Showcases 19th-20th Century Maine Fashion

Exhibition: Northern Threads (Part II) Showcases 19th-20th Century Maine Fashion

August 5, 2022

Two Centuries of Dress at Maine Historical Society

August 12 – December 31, 2022

Portland, ME: Following its successful and well-received Part I, NORTHERN THREADS: Two Centuries of Dress at Maine Historical Society opens Part II on Friday, August 12, 2022.

From flapper dresses to leisure suits, Maine Historical Society (MHS) presents clothing, vintage wear and fascinating stories of Maine people spanning 1890 to 1980. All-new vignettes include Turn-of-the-Century; Designer fashions; the Maine Outdoors; Women at Work and a World at War; Chemistry and Fashion; Bridal and Formalwear; and Silhouettes in Sequence.

New and returning visitors will encounter even more beautifully dressed mannequins, accessories and artifacts beyond those in Part I (which focused on 1790-1889 clothing). Trends, fibers, themes, and narratives will contextualize garments into distinct facets of 19th and 20th century Maine and American history.

Many visitors will relive memories of parents, grandparents, high school, weddings and proms as they view a progression of styles that were once all the rage. Younger gallery guests attracted to retro and vintage clothing will find inspiration in the variety of surprising patterns, colors, and funky fashions.

Central to MHS’ 200th anniversary, NORTHERN THREADS considers how the clothing Maine people have worn reveals the social, economic, and environmental history of our state. For example, the exhibition explores fabric production and accessibility, women’s independence, and the devastating impact of the fur industry.

Virtual Access:
Illuminating history though never-before-exhibited items from MHS’ permanent collection, NORTHERN THREADS also opens unprecedented online public access through the Maine Memory Network. A 3-D virtual tour and detailed digital exhibit (online August 31) increase accessibility 24/7 for those unable to visit the gallery in person, or for guests seeking to explore the MHS Historic Clothing, Costume and Dress Collection portal.

Public Programs:
Most public programs are free and virtual via, such as Black Fashion History in Maine: Examining the Clothing in Nineteenth-Century Photographs with Karin J. Bohleke on August 9.

Companion Exhibits:
The following in-person mini-exhibits rotate within the MHS galleries. Check MHS' website for these exhibition dates, NORTHERN THREADS programming, and for updates on MHS’ 200th anniversary activities and events.

• Cosmopolitan Stylings of Mildred and Madeleine Burrage;
• Representing every particular: John Martin's 19th century fashion illustrations;
• Fashion for the People: Maine Graphic Tees;
• Wadsworth-Longfellow family historic clothing, 1780-1825 in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House;
• Chansonetta Stanley Emmons: Staging the Past

Visit for details on tickets and admission to the MHS gallery on 489 Congress Street in Portland. Access for MHS members is free; general admission adults $10; children (6-17) $5, and under 6, free. Join before you book! Membership information:

NORTHERN THREADS is made possible by contributors, partners, and donors, including:

BHA Foundation Fund
Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust
Elsie A. Brown Fund, Inc.
The Coby Foundation for Textiles, Ltd.
The Davis Family Foundation
Down East Magazine (Media Sponsor)
Institute of Museum & Library Services
William Sloane Jelin Foundation
The Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust
Karen and Kirk Pelletier
Deborah S. Reed
The Phineas W. Sprague Memorial Foundation
Doris S. Stockly

For more information:

Maine Historical Society
489 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101

Maine Historical Society preserves and shares Maine's story to enrich life in contemporary Maine.