Global fashion as a tool in the ethnographic museum

Ling, Wessie and Van Dartel, Daan (2019) Global fashion as a tool in the ethnographic museum. Zone Mode Journal, 9 (2). pp. 71-88. ISSN 2611-0563


In 2014, the Tropenmuseum (transl. Tropical Museum) in Amsterdam, the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal and the Museum Volkenkunde (transl. Ethnology Museum) in Leiden merged to become the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (NMVW, transl. National Museum of World Cultures). Working in close cooperation with the Wereldmuseum (transl. World Museum) in Rotterdam, NMVW is now a collective of major ethnographic museums in the Netherlands, with about 450,000 objects and over 600,000 photographs cataloguing the diversity of world cultures. Among them, Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde and Wereldmuseum house significant Indonesian textile collections. Important Mexican textile collections are also part of the original collection in Volkenkunde. These collections are said to be the best outside of their country of origin. Built on the foundation of these renowned collections, textiles were placed in permanent museum exhibitions, where they were highlighted as an integral aspect of dress culture of specific localities. For example, until 2009, Tropenmusem mounted a permanent Indonesian textile exhibition with historical garments and cloths combined with fashion by contemporary Indonesian designer BinHouse. The exhibition was later dismantled in favor of creating a space for educational purposes, leaving a vacuum of textile exhibitions in the museum and across NMVW.

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