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Established by Carolyn Wingo in 1967 to support the teaching mission of the Department of Textile and Apparel Management, the MHCTC has grown to include over 6,000 items of apparel, accessories and household textiles ranging from 16th century textile fragments to 21st century apparel and accessories. Housed in the climate-controlled Josephine Margaret Holik Conservatory in Gwynn Hall, the Collection includes apparel and accessories for men, women and children, as well as military apparel, world dress and household textiles. MHCTC actively collects artifacts with Missouri-related provenance as well as those by prominent designers, manufacturers and retailers of the past and present. Due to preservation needs, access to the Conservatory is by appointment only and not all items are available for class or research appointments. Please contact Collection Manager Nicole Johnston at to arrange your visit. Explore highlights from our Collection below.


MHCTC encourages textile appreciation and scholarship through preservation, exhibition, research and educational programming. Over 250 collection artifacts are used in teaching each semester. Material objects, especially clothing, textile and accessory objects, greatly enhance learning outcomes. Dress is a visual communication tool through which we can explore a period’s or civilization’s technology, politics, social structure, economics, religion, communication, aesthetics, and more. Dress is particularly relatable as everyone in every corner of the globe wears some element of dress, from tattoos to tennis shoes and everything in between! When asked to reflect on the approach of teaching history through the lens of dress, students in TAM 2520W History of Western Dress replied:

man and woman in formal wear

"I thought this approach was awesome because it’s a more human-based aspect of history instead of event-based. I really felt like I understood the people of history better and how factors in their lives affected what they wore."

Maddie L., Undeclared, Business or Accountancy Major, University of Missouri (2019)

waistline of dress

"As new cultures and eras were introduced, my biases and stereotypes were shattered. I had a lot of preconceived notions about certain cultures’ dress and failed to see the interconnections between "then" and "now." This class definitely helped me change that."

Jackson F., University of Missouri (2014)

HES Dean, Sandy Rikoon and Ruth Tofle

"As much of a 'fashionista' as I considered myself to be, my views on dress have changed immensely. I never in a million years considered dress as a form of political speech – no wonder it’s called a 'fashion statement!"

Kynoisha H., University of Missouri (2014)


"I've been so used to learning through only books and historical facts but adding the component of dress really makes it personable. I might actually use this idea for my future classroom as I felt it was very successful."

Sarah S., Special Education-BSED Major, University of Missouri (2019)

o Collection resources are used in numerous TAM classes, as well as theses, dissertations, juried articles, exhibitions and publications within multiple disciplines. Click below to discover how Collection artifacts are used in teaching, research and collaboration in a wide variety of disciplines beyond Textile and Apparel Management, including Art History, Anthropology, Agriculture, Economics, English, Education, Fine Arts, History, International Studies, Journalism, Plant Sciences, Women and Gender Studies, and more!

Bathing suit from 1920

  • WOMEN AND GENDER STUDIES: An Australian swimmer, diver and performer, Annette Kellerman was one of the world’s first professional female athletes. Kellerman often wore a snug, full-body swimsuit that covered the body from torso to feet. Despite its modest coverage, the wool suit tended to cling revealingly to the body when wet. Kellerman was arrested in 1907 for indecent exposure.
  • TRADEMARK LAW: Kellerman also popularized a line of two-in-one swimwear with the label “Modern Kellerman Bathing Suit for Women” which became commercially available by the mid-1920s. The suit combined the male one-piece tank suit with an attached skirt. The label on the Collection’s Two-in-One Kellerman suit features a U.S. Patent Office registration by Asbury Mills of New York, as well as a retail label of Best & Company, New York. Despite existing trademark law, Kellerman’s name was often copied and added by other manufacturers in direct violation of Asbury Mills’ patent registration.
  • ART HISTORY AND VISUAL DESIGN: The Collection’s brown wool Kellerman bathing suit features a bright orange, geometric detail along the skirt’s hem, reflecting the period’s popular Art Deco styling.
  • HISTORY AND ECONOMICS: The term denim has possible origins in the French term de Nimes, or "of Nimes." This term refers to the blue and white twill material produced in Nimes that was used for general work clothes. The French term for Genoa is "Genes."
  • CHEMISTRY: Until the late 19th century nearly all blue indigo dye came from indigo bush plants in India. The majority of today’s denim manufacturing uses synthetic dyes.
  • PATENT LAW, ENGINEERING AND FASHION DESIGN: Blue jean overalls were patented in 1873 by Jacob Davis and American dry goods wholesaler Levi Strauss & Co. Originally designed as a work garment, denim overalls and jeans featured reinforced seams and copper rivet details, characteristic features that still remain on most contemporary denim apparel.
  • POPULAR CULTURE: American actor James Dean helped popularize blue jeans as a symbol of youth rebellion in the 1950s movie Rebel Without a Cause. Jeans were further popularized by rock and roll bands in the 1960s and became a representative element of dress for 1970s baby boomers.
  • MARKETING AND MEDIA: The "Stifle yourself, Alice!" patch was a quote often used by All in the Family television sitcom character Archie Bunker.

cotten denim blue jeans from 1970

The MHCTC is part of the University of Missouri’s Material Culture Studies Group, a consortium of university collections whose purpose is to promote the use of material culture objects in teaching and research. An HONORS COLLEGE TUTORIAL offers freshman and sophomore Honors students an introduction to the wide variety of MU’s unique material culture resources. Students visit the MHCTC to tour the collection storage conservatory and current exhibition after completing hands-on activities utilizing collection artifacts. Through this process students are introduced to the study of material culture early in their academic career to encourage future connections with MU’s unique resources.

Other annual Group programming includes NATIONAL MUSEUM DAY and INTERNATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAY, nationwide events by international organizations including the Smithsonian Magazine and Archaeological Institute of America, that provide hands-on learning activities for individuals of all ages utilizing objects from university collections.

Honors Students Research Artifacts

Honors Students Tour MHCTC Exhibition

Honors Students Tour Holik Conservatory

National Museum Day 2017

International Archaeology Day with Carol Leigh Brack-Kaiser 2017

Museum Archaeology Day 2018

The MHCTC is invited annually to participate in the Museum of Art and Archaeology’s Art in Bloom event during which the MHCTC displays garments with floral themes used as inspiration for headdress and jewelry designs by students in MU’s Wedding Floral Design course of the Department of Plant Sciences in the School of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Students first preview a variety of dress garments during a special session in which they learn the provenance of each artifact and photograph and sketch one of their choosing. Students then use their chosen garment as inspiration for the creation of floral headpieces and jewelry displayed alongside the garment during the museum’s popular event which draws over 1,500 people over three days.

Events and exhibitions provide students from a variety of academic disciplines direct access to collection artifacts as well as opportunities for experiential learning and professional development. Garment research, exhibition planning and installation, and fundraising participation are just a few opportunities the MHCTC makes available to University of Missouri students. Click on the images below to visit event webpages.

Pictures, Prose, Song ExhibitionPictures, Prose, Song Exhibition
State Historical Society

History's Closet FundraiserHistory's Closet Fundraiser
Club at Old Hawthorne

That's a Wrap ReceptionThat's a Wrap Reception

Architectural Studies student Noah Chidoub completed a virtual reality Fashion Photogrammetry Project as part of his Digital Storytelling New Media Capstone using the MHCTC’s 196os polyester Burger King uniform. A 360 degree view of the garment was captured using both digital photography and scanning to create a short video highlighting the use of VR/AR applications.

"For my Digital Storytelling Capstone’s New Media Project I chose to try photogrammetry. I have seen a lot of VR/AR applications used for advertising of pieces in the fashion industry, and decided I’d try to scan an item of clothing and display it in VR [Virtual Reality.] MU’s Textile and Apparel Management Dept. was enthusiastic to work with me on this, as they donated the amazing garment displayed in the video from their archives: a women's Burger King uniform from the 1960's! The video clearly shows some issues with texturing and color, but through this project I learned about 3D scanning software and hardware and topological repairs." – Noah Chidoub (2019)

women's Burger King uniform

In September 2017 twenty-five MU juniors in Dr. Ashley Woodson’s Learning, Teaching and Curriculum 4534 course titled Secondary Social Studies I Field Experience visited the opening reception of the MHCTC’s fall exhibition Wearing 1967: A 50th Anniversary Exhibition. Students explored over forty objects on display as well as an additional website and timeline of period events to complete an in-class assignment about the use of objects to inform and enhance social studies curriculum.

Wearing 1967 exhibit attendees

Wearing 1967 exhibit attendees

Wearing 1967 exhibit attendees


Click images below to learn more. Historical and donor information will appear.

Men's Cotton Vest (1840s)
Boy's Silk Mourning Dress and Jacket (1860)
Embroidered Silk Chiffon and Net Dress (1920s)
Pleated Silk Dress by Krezia (1980s)
Image 5 Metal Chainmail Purse (1920s)
Cotton Log Cabin Quilt, Detail (Mid to Late 19th Century)