Centraal Museum

May 9, 2024
Two private collections revealed
May 9–September 29, 2024
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Centraal Museum
Agnietenstraat 1
3512 XA Utrecht
The Netherlands

Collecting fashion is an art in itself. Compiling a collection requires time, knowledge, passion, a keen eye, and a bit of luck. This exhibition presents iconic items from two remarkable private collections formed in Utrecht. 

“A celebration of fifty years of dazzling couture.”—Hans van Emmerik (collector)

From a young age on, Van Emmerik would admire the clothing worn on family photographs, particularly by his grandmother. She also happened to have a studio for children’s clothing, housed on an 18th century estate on the outskirts of Utrecht, at Oosterkade/Helling 1. She also gave him bits of left-over fabric. It all sparked a profound fascination for fashion, and Van Emmerik became a passionate collector of fashion from the first half of the twentieth century. He now owns the country’s largest private collection of fashion from this era, with more than 300 dresses worn by wealthy women in that period. The items range from spectacular evening gowns decorated with sequins to couture made of rustling silk.

“There’s a hat for every head.”—Tiny Meihuizen-Wijker (collector)

Until 2009, the museum of hats and collector’s shop Gossip & Whispering could be found at just a stone’s throw from Centraal Museum. As a young girl, founder Tiny Meihuizen-Wijker took a fancy to the hats that ladies wore to church. She admired the exuberant designs, striking colours and remarkable details. The most eccentric hats were sure to spark all sorts of gossip and whispering—hence the name of her later establishment. To wear a hat is to make a statement. Her collection eventually grew to over 1200 hats, ranging from dainty bucket hats from the 1920s to extravagant models sporting flowers and bird feathers.

Centraal Museum is now offering the public the first-ever opportunity to admire these remarkable collections, which have otherwise remained largely hidden from view.

Digital mirror
How would it look on you, the felt Buffalo hat once worn by Vivienne Westwood (1941–2022), or a green bucket hat from the 1920s? Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to actually wear the fashion items kept in museum collections, because of the fragility of the textile. But we’ve teamed up with Europeana Fashion and Modemuze, and thanks to innovative technologies such as 3D scans and 360 degree photography, you can still try out different hats. So go on… give it a go!

Another Story
Another Story is a new concept housed on the second floor of the museum. Here we invite artists, or in this case collectors, to respond to the museum’s collection with their own work.

Centraal Museum
May 9, 2024

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