Designed for a Modern Life: Decorative Arts & Fashion in the Midcentury

October 26, 2018 – April 13, 2019

A collaborative exhibit with our neighbors at the Christian Petersen Art Museum

The collaborative winter-spring exhibition, Designed for a Modern Life: Decorative Arts & Fashion in the Midcentury, at the Christian Petersen Art Museum and the adjoining Textile and Clothing Museum, Morrill Hall will include selections from both permanent collections and select loans including objects from designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Hans Wegner, Georg Jensen, Jens Risom, Russel Wright, Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Roy Lichtenstein, Pricilla Sage, Paul Sachs, James Galanos, and Pucci.

Related Events and Programs

February 19, 2019, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Power of the Purse: Gender, Consumption, and Politics in Midcentury America

Location: Room 1030 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames IA 50011

Speaker: Dr. Amy Rutenberg, Assistant Professor of History

museum apparel

Rutenberg will discuss how the Cold War politicized male and female gender roles, particularly with regard to mass consumption. Ideals of domestic containment pushed men to be breadwinners and women to be consumers in order to combat the threat of communism. These ideals, however, excluded broad swaths of the American population who were denied access to suburban homeownership, jobs that paid a family wage, and the consumer goods that came with a good income. This event is in conjunction with Designed for a Modern Life Exhibition at the Christian Petersen Art Museum and the Textiles and Clothing Museum.

March 10, 2019, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Short Films – American Design & Marketing in the ’50s & ’60s

Location: Room 0003 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames IA 50011

A series of three film shorts that highlight the height of 1950s and 1960s design in the U.S. will be shown and discussed. Design for Dreaming (1956) presents futuristic modern styles drawn from industrial stage as shown through a Hollywood musical. American Look (1958) is a tribute to the American designer of both decorative arts and cars presented by Chevrolet. Match Your Mood (1968) a promotional film for Westinghouse refrigerator line. The shorts run 45 min. in total, a brief discussion will follow each. This event is in conjunction with Designed for a Modern Life Exhibition at the Christian Petersen Art Museum.

March 28, 2019, 7:00 pm-8:00 pm

The Wit & Fantasy of Bes-Ben Millinery

Location: Room 2019 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames IA 50011
Speaker: Elizabeth Jachimowicz, Independent scholar and former Curator of Costumes at Chicago History Museum
View flier.

The story of how Bes-Ben Millinery designer Benjamin Green-Field, known as Chicago’s Mad Hatter, achieved celebrity status for his whimsical hats that featured the likes of panda’s, lobsters, and playing cards. 

The exhibit will be open for 30 minutes before and after the lecture.

March 31, 2019, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Fashions Suburbia: Dressing the Family in Midcentury America

Location: Room 2019 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames IA 50011

Speaker: Jennifer Farley Gordon, Ph.D., Apparel, Events & Hospitality Management

jewelryExplores the fashions of the middle-class midcentury family, including the way that clothing style and clothing consumption factored into the everyday lives of men, women, and children in post-war suburban America. It traces the modern family as the gray flannel suits, saddle shoes, and hostess aprons of the fifties gave way to miniskirts, PVC fabrics, and the Peacock Revolution during the sixties. In conjunction with Designed for a Modern Life Exhibition at the Christian Petersen Art Museum and the Textiles and Clothing Museum.

April 13, 2019, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm and April 14, 2019, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm

University Museums and Textiles and Clothing Museum Open House Weekend

Location: Multiple campus locations (see description below)

museum dresses

During the weekend, visit the Christian Petersen Art Museum and Textile and Clothing Museum joint exhibition Designed for a Modern Life: Decorative Arts & Fashion in the Midcentury in Morrill Hall for an open house. Then continue your adventure across campus to the Farm House Museum to see the exhibition Timeless: Love and Romance in the Victorian Era. All museums are free and open to the public. Parking available on campus in non-reserved spaces.