What We Do


It’s easier for students to master history when the subject somehow “comes alive.” The Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection (MHCTC) was created in 1967 to achieve that very aim and to bring the past to life. A trove of over 11,000 materials have been collected, the majority stored in climate-controlled conditions, ready for interdisciplinary learning both in and out of the classroom, as well as for research and public exhibitions. The MHCTC is an exceptional example of the unique learning opportunities available at the University of Missouri.

Enhancing Learning Opportunities

The use of material objects, especially clothing and textiles, in teaching greatly enhances learning outcomes. Dress is a visual communication tool through which we can explore technology, politics, social structure, economics, religion, communication, aesthetics, and more. Over 300 collection artifacts are used in teaching each year. The MHCTC also participates in the University of Missouri’s Material Culture Studies Group, a consortium of University collections whose purpose is to encourage the use of objects in teaching, research, and educational programming. As part of the University of Missouri, the MHCTC benefits from a plethora of interdisciplinary collaborative opportunities.

Nicole Johnston looking at collection

students working on project


Each fall the MHCTC brings over forty world dress and textile objects to TAM 2580 Digital Apparel and Textile Applications as part of a cultural appropriation digital design project in which students explore meanings and symbolism found within the objects’ patterns and colors. Visual analysis and drawing exercises enhance the exploration of cultural appropriation and appreciation by fashion designers of the past and present, after which students create their own culturally-inspired digital textile prints.

dress being photographed


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. “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.] Through this project I learned about 3D scanning software and hardware and topological repairs.” – Noah Chidoub (2019)

F.A.M.E.: Fashion. Art. Museum. Experience.

Students from Textile and Apparel Management and Plant Sciences participated in F.A.M.E., a unique fundraising event for the Museum of Art and Archaeology’s Museum Associates and the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection. Guests spoke with students about the creative processes behind their apparel, scarf and floral designs inspired by museum artwork while browsing displays of artifacts from both University collections.

Pictured: Left to right: MHCTC Silk and Lace Wedding Gown (Early 1870s); OSCILLATION by Adriana Martin and Chance Zacheis (2019) inspired by Tango Red Persian by Dale Chihuly (2004) Museum of Art and Archaeology; Floral design by Cindy Kaplan, Elaine Botts, and Emily Elmer (2019)

Explore the Event

collection items

Art (and Fashion) In Bloom

The MHCTC participates in the Museum of Art and Archaeology’s annual Art in Bloom event that includes displays of garments with floral themes. MHCTC garments are also used as inspiration for headdress and jewelry designs by students in MU’s Wedding Floral Design course in the Department of Plant Sciences in the School of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Students select and research a 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.

Explore Art In Bloom

collection item

Nicole Johnston with students


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. A 1-credit Honors College Tutorial offers Honors students an introduction to the wide variety of unique material culture resources at Mizzou. Students visit the MHCTC to tour the collection storage conservatory and current exhibition after completing hands-on activities utilizing collection artifacts.

Nicole Johnston with students


Another Material Culture Studies Group activity celebrates events by the Smithsonian Magazine and Archaeological Institute of America with a day of hands-on learning for individuals of all ages utilizing objects from university collections.

PURE Inspiration

The Human Environmental Sciences Program for Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) aims to encourage and support undergraduate participation in research projects across the College. P.U.R.E. provides opportunities for exceptional students to cooperate actively with faculty mentors, learning firsthand about research, creative activity, and scholarship processes.2014 PURE grant recipients Kathleen Kowalski and Amanda Smith worked with TAM faculty mentor Jean L. Parsons to research and create digitally-printed textile designs inspired by numerous artifacts from the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection. The 2015 exhibit P.U.R.E. Inspiration represented a portion of the students’ creative research.

Pictured: Architectural Clarity by Kathleen Kowalsky (2014)

Explore the Exhibition

collection item

collection item


As part of the MHCTC’s Origins: Dress and Textiles exhibition series beginning in 2018, Textile and Apparel Management students in Jean Parsons’s Creativity and Problem Solving class were asked to create textile art pieces intended to hang on a wall, but that could also be worn. Their beginning inspiration and story was the fall exhibition Endangered: Fauna and Fashion with freedom to choose the focus of their creative research.

Pictured: Blue Fin Tuna by Andrea Radicic (2018)

Explore Student Designs

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The MHCTC also collaborated with Kristen Morris’s Integrated Apparel Design and Production class in 2019 as part of its second Origins: Dress and Textiles exhibit installation. Students were asked to create apparel designs related to the Collection’s fall exhibition Flora and Fashion. The micro-collection of garments was inspired by two initiatives of the Mizzou Botanic Gardens – Missourians for Monarchs and Restoring Bees and Pollinators – and was to reflect a thoughtful statement about key issues surrounding environmental conservation, using the medium of clothing to inspire positive social change.

Pictured: SAVE OUR POLLINATORS by Amanda Lee (2019)

Explore the Student Designs

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Textile and Apparel Management students in Creativity and Problem Solving were also inspired by the second exhibition in the MHCTC’s Origins: Dress and Textiles series: Flora and Fashion! Surface design and texture were critical to create the visual 2D interest, but dimensionality and the ability to interact with the 3D body was also important.

Pictured: Fragile Strings by Jenny Wu (2019)

Explore the Student Designs