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Maine Historical Society



A Past Exhibit

NORTHERN THREADS: Two Centuries of Dress at Maine Historical Society

Part I: Clothing circa 1780–1889 : March 16–July 30, 2022
Part II: Clothing circa 1890–1980 : August 12–December 31, 2022

MHS main gallery at 489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine

Northern Threads exhibit logo

Experience Maine history through fashion in a landmark two-part exhibition NORTHERN THREADS: Two Centuries of Dress at Maine Historical Society. Organized by themed vignettes, Northern Threads shared stories about Maine people, while exploring how the clothing they wore revealed social, economic, and environmental histories. This re-examination of MHS' permanent collection was an opportunity to consider the relevance of historic clothing in museums, the ebb and flow of fashion styles, and the complexities of diverse representation spanning 200 years of collecting.

There exists a broader myth that the people in Maine historically did not have access to, or care about fashion. As evidence to the contrary, Northern Threads aimed to dispel this myth through two installations. The first (March–July 2022) included garments, military uniforms, and accessories from circa 1780 through 1889. The second installation (August–December 2022) includes selections from 1890 through 1980. A companion exhibition in the Wadsworth-Longfellow House featuring family clothing was installed for the summer season.

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***New England Magazine lists Northern Threads among "10 exhibitions to discover in Maine this summer"

If you can't visit our gallery, or want to re-visit the exhibition after you've viewed it in person, you can:

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, Institute ofÆ’ 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, and Down East Magazine (Media Sponsor)