Historical photographs offer a fascinating insight into Victorian fashions.
The Gallery of Costume at Platt Fields may currently be closed for redevelopment, but the gallery is still offering ways for people to engage with their internationally important costume collections.
Behind the scenes, for example, staff and volunteers have been busy documenting an archive of historical costume photographs. Almost 80 of these rare photographs have now been uploaded onto Flickr (a free, online photograph sharing resource), together with information about their historical significance for the public to access for free, anytime, from anywhere across the world.
The photographs record the country's changing fashions during the Victorian era. And while primarily archived as records of historical dress, the pictures also provide a fascinating insight into Victorian lifestyles. One set of photographs, for example, charts the growing popularity of leisure activities in the second half of the 19th century.
The photographs form part of a significant library and archive that was originally accumulated during the 1930s by the pre-eminent academics and writers on historical costume Drs C Willett and Phillis Cunnington. In 1947 Manchester City Council (then Manchester Corporation) acquired the archives for study and research purposes and it has since increased in size.
The photographs have been made available online thanks to a significant grant from the Getty Foundation. The online collection is a representative sample of the larger collection and will be updated by staff as the documentation project continues.
Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure said:
"This is a fantastic project that helps to make the Gallery of Costume's internationally significant collections easily available to interested audiences across the world.
It represents just one of many steps that are being taken to improve accessibility to the gallery and its collections. The most exciting step being the major £1.2 million redevelopment project currently underway which will provide superior facilities for general visitors, the local community and educational groups following its completion in Spring 2010."
Photographs from the Gallery of Costume's Getty archive can now be viewed online at: www.flickr.com/photos/manchester_city_galleries
The Gallery of Costume will re-open in Spring 2010.