Fashioning Feathers: Dead Birds, Millinery Crafts and the Plumage Trade

Project Details


Fashioning Feathers: Dead Birds, Millinery Crafts and the Plumage Trade is an exhibition conceived and created by Dr Merle Patchett © 2011.

In its first manifestation at the FAB Gallery, University of Alberta (May-June 2011) the exhibition was co-curated by Dr Merle Patchett and Dr Liz Gomez in association with the Material Culture Institute of the University of Alberta. The exhibition was presented as part of The Material Culture Institute’s 2011 Symposium – Material Culture, Craft & Community: Negotiating Objects Across Time & Place.

Fashioning Feathers… is now on tour and opened at the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) March 24th 2012 - January 6th 2013. For more information click here for details.

Exhibition Description:

Fashioning Feathers is a beautiful collaborative effort... between Natural and Human History... between the Royal Alberta Museum and the Material Culture Institute at the University of Alberta... and between fashion, millinery work and the endangerment of a whole class of animals.

Fashioning Feathers originated with two curators Drs. Patchett and Gomez who first saw their vision come to life at the University of Alberta's FAB Gallery in May 2011 in conjunction with the Material Institute's craft symposium. Since that time, the Royal Alberta Museum's very own Dr. Jocelyn Hudon, Curator of Ornithology and Cathy Roy, Curator of Western Canadian History, have worked together with the original curators to enhance and broaden the scope of the exhibit which now includes an expanded Prairie Millinery component, some incredible specimen from the Ornithology collection at RAM and stunning artifacts from the Western Canadian History collection at RAM.

The exhibit provides an opportunity to share, with visitors, the beauty of the birds and the hats they adorned but also to examine the effect fashion's demand for these exquisite feathers had on bird populations at the beginning of the twentieth century. The feathers for these hats came from countless colourful species from around the world including newly colonized areas like New Guinea with its birds-of-paradise and crowned pigeons.

For the Fashioning Feathers exhibit, the Museum brings out from the vaults, several examples of species harvested for their feathers, many from faraway places and also some extraordinary hats from the Museum's extensive and impressive collection.

For more information visit

The Material Culture Institute, University of Alberta provided support for an earlier version of this exhibition.
Effective start/end date1/05/11 → …


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