While in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I revisited the Atlanta History Center. My main reason for visiting was to see the latest fashion exhibition, Fashion in Good Taste, but I also took the time to look through the permanent galleries. It seems like there is always something great to study in the exhibition halls.
Above is a pair of stockings made by Mrs. Henry Clay Hughes in Roswell, which is just north of Atlanta, from her own home-grown cotton. Circa 1913.
The Atlanta History Center seems to have this overwhelming desire to put everything behind glass, so I’m sorry that the photos are so poor. From the North Georgia Collins family, accomplished weavers.
English lace making by Betty Kemp. My mind is officially blown.
It seems like the latest thing in museum curation is the “??? in 50 objects” exhibition. The Atlanta History Center got in on the trend with Atlanta in 50 Objects. This is a 1969 Delta Airlines (which is based in Atlanta) stewardess uniform. It has a sort of mod-meets-granny vibe.
I’ve written about the “Fabulous Fox” before, and it is scary to think about how close Atlanta came to losing this theater. In 1974 Atlantans joined to raise $3,000,000 to save the theater, which was slated for demolition. The property was bought by a newly-formed non-profit, and today, instead of a parking garage, the Fox still is home to live performances.
Rich’s was Atlanta’s biggest department store, before being gobbled up by Federated Department Stores (later, the Macy’s chain). Starting in 1959 Priscilla the Pink Pig monorail took children on a tour over the toy department each Christmas.
The exhibit above is a bit puzzling, as the items are actually more connected to Athens, Georgia, than with Atlanta. The dress, wigs, and boots belonged to Cindy Wilson of the B-52s. Wilson designed the dress (see her sketch) which was worn in performances and on the cover of Whammy! their 1983 album.
Before the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, Atlanta was home to a minor league baseball team called the Atlanta Crackers. Above is a boy’s uniform from the early days of the team.
Unfortunately, the utilization of so many artifacts combined with the use of glass made for poor viewing of some exhibits. The visual clutter was quite distracting at times.
Both the suit and the “Votes for Women” sash date to 1918. The original owner of neither was identified, and it was not made clear whether the suit was actually worn by a woman working for the right to vote.
There was this great display of bathing attire, which was easier to see than my photo suggests. The white object on the right is a set of Ayvad’s Water-Wings. The bathing suit on the right was identified as a man’s suit, but I’m not so sure. By the 1920s, when this suit was made and worn, the tank portion of men’s suits had developed deep armholes.
Of all the objects shown in Atlanta in 50 Objects, this carpetbag is possibly the most significant. After the end of the Civil War, many Northerners moved south, looking to profit from Reconstruction policies. These “carpetbaggers” were often poor, and used bags made from carpet scraps to carry their belongings. Outsiders to the region are still sometimes referred to as carpetbaggers.
And what would a Southern history museum be without its Civil War displays? I love a great sailor middy, and so here is one. It really has no connection to Atlanta that I could tell, being worn by Stephen Roach, a sailor in the Union Navy.
Having visited the AHC several times, I spent my limited time there just looking for clothing and textiles. I was not disappointed.