Playing Dress Up: Virtual Tour of Student Exhibition in Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design
20 Apr 2020
"Playing Dress Up: Growing Up and Going out in 1960s Nebraska” is an exhibition designed and installed by students in Museums: Theory & Practice, a graduate seminar in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design taught by Dr. Claire Nicholas. On display in the 2nd floor of the Human Sciences Building, it has now been made accessible via an online virtual tour due to campus closure.
The exhibition features designer children’s clothing from the early to mid-1960s, a period very much on the “eve” of cultural and social revolutions in the United States. The ‘60s also saw a continuation of the post-WWII rise in American affluence and consumer culture. This coincided with the nation’s booming population, many of whom were children in the 1950s and ‘60s. The growing market for children’s wear did not go unnoticed by the emerging American fashion industry. It was at this time that several prominent children’s clothing designers came into their own, several of whom have garments featured in this exhibition. Children’s clothing of the 1960s was designed with the active child in mind, and featured clean lines, bold colors, graphic motifs and prints, and A-line silhouettes.
The exhibition is divided into thematic vignettes that imagine how a child of the ‘60s would have experienced dressing up and going out in Lincoln, Nebraska. Themes include a family trip to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo (which opened in 1965), winter holiday parties (and the trend for “Mother-and-Me” or “Look-a-Like” matching outfits), Arbor Day play dates (a Nebraska holiday), Fourth of July patriotic ensembles, and showing off German cultural heritage in a fashion forward “dirndl,” a style popularized by the 1965 release of “The Sound of Music.”
All of the children’s clothing featured in the exhibition is courtesy of Marilyn Forke, a longtime Lincoln resident who was both formally trained in fashion and textiles at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and who possessed an enduring love of high-end design.
Special thanks go to Robin Forke, the daughter of donor Marilyn Forke, for sharing her family’s history with the class and for her enthusiastic support of the exhibition. We also want to acknowledge the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film and Heidi Warrington for their generous loan of many of the props featured in the exhibition. Finally, thanks to Adria Sanchez-Chaidez, TMFD MA graduate student, for her work on editing and producing the virtual tour.
Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design
College of Education and Human Sciences