Eastern Europe
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Eastern Europe

The Henry Art Gallery owns an extensive collection of Eastern European folk costume and textiles. The collection dates mostly from the period between the two World Wars and amply documents the regional dress of this region, where each village has its distinct style. Daily use of folk costume declined after the turn of the twentieth century because of industrialization, improved transportation systems, and the availability of mass-produced clothing, and gradually disappeared after World War II. Today, costume heirlooms or recently made replicas clothe folk dancers and others at festivals, religious observances, and holidays that celebrate and reaffirm the region’s varied cultural heritage.

The Henry collection includes many complete costumes; a wide range of shoes and stockings, hats and other head coverings for both women and men; fragments of embroidery; and numerous men’s garments, a category often poorly represented in museum collections. The majority of the collection came from two major collectors. Blanche Payne, a University of Washington faculty member, traveled and conducted research in Eastern Europe in 1930 and 1937, focusing on the costume of Yugoslavia. She acquired costumes, garments, and fragments to teach design principles to her students. Payne also collected photographs, pattern drawings, watercolor paintings, and postcards during her travels that can be viewed through the UW Libraries’ Special Collections Division database. Margaret J. Hord, an avid folk dancer, selected complete costumes and costume pieces during travel in Yugoslavia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe from the late 1960s to the 1990s. Her main objective was to create a resource for folk dancers interested in preserving their ethnic heritage.

To see all of the textiles from this region represented in the Henry Art Gallery’s collection, go to the Collection Search.

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Open this File in Google Earth: Eastern Europe